Fazilka, Oct 10 (PTI) Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday to intervene and ensure cotton was procured at the minimum support price in Punjab.
Badal alleged that cotton growers were being exploited by private players because the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) was not procuring cotton in the state.
During a visit to a cotton market yard in Fazilka, the Akali Dal chief said farmers were suffering because the CCI had deliberately delayed entry into the market, due to which they were forced to sell their cotton crop at a price of around Rs 4,800 per quintal to private players against the MSP of Rs 5,725 per quintal.
Interacting with farmers, Badal assured them that the SAD would launch an agitation to force the CCI to procure cotton at the MSP.
He said party workers would agitate in front of the CCI offices and also visit the wholesale markets to force the government agency to procure cotton on the MSP.
'Presently, farmers are facing problems in getting their cotton crop procured despite sitting in 'mandis' for two-three days,' he said in a statement.
Badal said it was unfortunate that the CCI was not doing its duty towards farmers and asked the prime minister to intervene in the matter.
He said as much as 1.25 lakh quintals of cotton had arrived in the wholesale markets in Punjab but CCI had purchased a minuscule amount of 12,000 quintals.
'Farmers are forced to go in for distress sale to private players as they cannot transport their produce long distances nor store it,' he said.
This is exactly what the SAD has been pointing out all along while demanding constitutional guarantees that the MSP and government procurement would continue, and no farm produce would be purchased at prices less than the MSP, Badal said.
The SAD president said it was 'condemnable' that Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had still not woken up to the seriousness of the issue and not taken it up with the CCI or the Centre.
He said the Punjab government should hold talks with CCI to ensure the entire cotton crop was procured by the agency in the state. PTI CHS HMB