Centre punishing farmers by making it impossible for them to sell at MSP: Bajwa

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New Delhi, Mar 15 (PTI) Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP from Punjab Pratap Singh Bajwa Monday alleged the Centre was trying to punish farmers for their protests by making it practically impossible for them to sell their produce at Minimum Support Price (MSP).

He said that on March 11, the Food Corporation of India had proposed tighter quality controls for the procurement of wheat and paddy.

The Punjab MP also raised the matter during his Zero Hour mention in Rajya Sabha and said the FCI move came barely 15 days before the harvesting of wheat begins in Punjab.

The new requirements such as 12 percent moisture content and the reduction of foreign matter in the produce are weather-related, and by penalising farmers for this, the government is essentially arguing that global warming is in the hands of the farmers, Bajwa said.

He alleged this would allow the Central government run away from the procurement of foodgrains.

Among other changes made by the Centre, he alleged, include requiring farmers to submit land ownership records to receive MSP for wheat.

This, he claimed, is a further sign of the Union government's intent to stop procurement of grains. 'Nearly 45 per cent of land holdings in Punjab are leased out, and such a move along with direct bank transfers to the land owner, will greatly affect the cultivator,' he said.

Bajwa said the move to enforce direct bank transfers to landowners 'would make it practically impossible for cultivators to receive their share of the MSP on time and thereby affect the agricultural cycle in the state of Punjab'.

'Through the efforts of the Government of India to push these banker-friendly moves at the cost of the farmers, would only force the farmers of Punjab away from farming and would irrevocably damage the economy of the State,' he said.

The Congress leader alleged the government has taken steps to harm the state by cutting the Rural Development Fund from three percent to one percent, which will cause a loss of over Rs 1,000 crore to the exchequer of Punjab.

Moreover, at the height of the pandemic, the government had arrears over Rs 8,200 crore to the state government, due to slow release of GST dues, he alleged. PTI SKC TIR TIR