Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president Partap Singh Bajwa, addressing the media persons at Chamiari village near Ajnala after touring the grain markets in border districts, said that the farmers were at receiving end due to callous attitude of SAD-BJP Government.
“The farmers are forced by the commission agents to make distress sale of paddy to private companiesin connivance with Government officials. Private players are buying paddy at Rs 1,085 to Rs 1,100 per quintal against the MSP of Rs 1,345 per quintal,” said Bajwa.
He added that Punjab Government was expected to procure about 130 lakh tones of paddy but during the first 20 days, only 20 per cent stocks have been procured.
Rejecting Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s criticism of UPA Government for meager hike in MSP of paddy, Bajwa said that this year, MSP was hiked by Rs 50 per quintal, and it has been increased by Rs 800 per quintal over the last eight years during the UPA-I and II regime. “While, the previous NDA government had increased the MSP of paddy by just Rs 110 per quintal between 1999-2004, he pointed.
Bajwa said that Badal had raised hue and cry over MSP announced by the Centre but his government is not even able to ensure the payment at current MSP. “Centre government has given Rs 50 per quintal bonus on paddy and let Badal announce Rs 50 bonus by the state government. Main responsibility of procurement of grains lies with the state government as the Food Corporation India buys only 10 per cent of total paddy procured,” he added.
Saying that it was “matter of shame” for SAD-BJP Government that Punjab was ranked at 18th place among 20 states in agriculture growth, Bajwa added that State’s peasantry was most-heavily burdened in the country next to Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
“Rural debt in Punjab is estimated to be more than Rs 35,000 crore which has resulted in farm suicides. As per latest survey by Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana, about 5000 farmers and farm labourers have committed suicides during last 10 years,” he added.
State congress chief said that Centre in 2008 had announced Rs 52,000 crore farm loan waiver policy which benefited over three crore small farmers. “However, SAD-BJP government has burdened farmers with taxes making agriculture input costly. Punjab is charging over 20 percent VAT and surcharge on diesel which is highest in the country,” he pointed.
Bajwa blamed the state government for not yet coming up with the agriculture policy during last seven years of its regime. He also stated that farmers in border areas had suffered a lot due to floods and crops in over 25,000 acres in districts of Gurdaspur, Amritsar and Ferozepur got damaged.