Farmers’ apprehensions already coming true in Punjab: Harsimrat Badal
Chandigarh: Former Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal on Sunday said the apprehensions of farmers were already coming true in Punjab with the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) putting daily ceilings on procurement of cotton and effecting a four-times reduction in its purchase.
Asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take note of the actions of CCI, Mrs Harsimrat Badal said “even though you have given repeated statements about the continuance of minimum support price (MSP), your inability to specify anything regarding assured government purchase at MSP is already having an adverse effect on government departments. It is unfortunate that the CCI is not ready to procure lint as per even last year’s schedule and is throwing cotton farmers to the mercy of private players by announcing a daily purchase ceiling of 12,500 quintals against a daily arrival of 50,000 quintals of cotton in Mandis across seven districts in Punjab”.
Asking the Prime Minister to set the record straight, Mrs Badal said “a clear cut directive needs to be issued by you guaranteeing government procurement of all agricultural products listed under the MSP system. This is the need of the hour as even a government department like CCI, which has the mandate to procure cotton on MSP, is abdicating its responsibility. If CCI can do this, what can farmers expect from private players? Mrs Badal asked while asking the Prime Minister to bring in simultaneous legislation making it mandatory for private players to procure farmer produce at rates not less than the MSP. “All this is feasible but for it to succeed the Prime Minister will have to cut out intermediaries who have messed up the farmer dialogue and interact with them directly. This was requested by the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) earlier also. The Union government must act quickly. Fifty lives have already been lost”.
Speaking about cotton procurement by CCI in the Malwa region, Mrs Badal said even though cotton arrivals had peaked, the CCI had announced that it would stagger purchase by restricting buying to only 12,500 quintals per day across twenty-two purchase centres. She said this would not only result in over-crowding at Mandis with farmers vying with each other to get their produce procured first but would also result in corrupt practices besides distress sale of cotton to private players. “As per the present schedule fixed by CCI, the purchase season would extend till September next year. Small farmers can neither store their produce nor wait it out for so long. They will be forced to sell cheap to private players”.
Stating that the situation was already precarious at major Mandis of Bathinda, Abohar, Mansa and Maur, Mrs Badal requested the Prime Minister to intervene and direct CCI to take back its arbitrary orders immediately and purchase the entire cotton arriving in Mandis across the State. She said if this was not done the SAD would launch an agitation to ensure justice was done to the cotton growers of the State.