Chhattisgarh Oppn corners Cong government over farmer issues

Raipur, Nov 28 (PTI) Opposition MLAs cornered the Congress government in the Chhattisgarh Assembly on Thursday and accused it of 'cheating' farmers on the issue of giving support price for paddy procurement.

The legislators, led by those of the BJP, created ruckus in the house and vociferously raised issues related to cultivators.

They accused the Congress government of reducing the agricultural acreage (area under cultivation), which farmers have registered to sell their produce, so as to buy less paddy.

As many as 15 MLAs of the BJP, the Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (J) and the Bahujan Samaj Party troopedinto the wellof the house demanding discussion on the issue by moving an adjournment motion notice.

They were automatically suspended as per the assembly rules for trooping into the well of the house. However, their suspension was later revoked by the speaker.

After the Question Hour, Leader of Opposition Dharamlal Kaushik of the BJP and other opposition MLAs alleged the government has been adopting various tactics to procure less quantity of paddy at the rate of Rs 2,500 per quintal.

District collectors have been instructed verbally by a top official to reduce the acreage of paddy cultivation in each district, registered by farmers to sell their produce, they claimed.

Through this method, the state government wants to escape from paddy procurement in 3-4 lakh hectares, the opposition MLAs claimed.

Farmers are being threatened with legal action if they do not reduce their acreage, they claimed.

The opposition said it is unfortunate that paddy procurement has been deliberately delayed by a month.

As against its earlier announcement of Rs 2,500 per quintal price, the Congress government is procuring paddy at MSP of Rs 1,815 (common grade) and Rs 1,835 (Grade A), as notified by the Centre, the opposition lawmakers said.

Due to this, farmers are feeling 'cheated', they said.

Countering the opposition charges, Food Minister Amarjeet Bhagat said during the kharif season 2019-20, 19,65,959 farmers have registered 27,23,047 hectares land to sell their produce which is 1.62 lakh hectare more acreage than the previous kharif season.

However, after the government decided to procure paddy at Rs 2,500 per quintal, it took necessary steps to ensure the unused acreage of farmers are not used to sell paddy coming from other states or by middlemen, the minister said.

To prevent transport of paddy from adjoining states for selling in Chhattisgarh, checkposts have been set up in border areas, Bhagat said.

A special inspection team has been constituted to keep an eye on illegal transportation of paddy into the state, he added.

Verification of agricultural acreage is being done as differences were found in the records of land registered in the name of farmers in Bhuiya software (government online facility for keeping revenue records) and online paddy procurement software, he said.

The minister rejected the charge that farmers are being subjected to harassment in the name of verification of acreage.

Though the government has been purchasing paddy as per the rates notified by the Centre, a five-member cabinet sub- committee has been constituted to study how farmers can be given the full benefit of Rs 2,500 per quintal price, he said.

When Speaker Charandas Mahant declined to accept the adjournment motion notice, the opposition members raised slogans against the government. PTI TKP RSY RSY