Direct payment to farmers: Sidhu slams Goyal; claims Centre wants to ‘destroy’ mandi system

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Chandigarh, Apr 4 (PTI) Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu on Sunday attacked Union Food Minister Piyush Goyal over his letter regarding the issue of direct payment to farmers and alleged that the central government wanted to “destroy and disrupt” the state's tried and tested mandi system.

Goyal had written a letter to the Punjab government asking it to implement a system for direct payment to farmers for crop procurement.

The state government was also asked to integrate land records available with the revenue department with the procurement portal.

Addressing the media in Patiala, the cricketer-turned-politician alleged that the motive of the letter was to “disrupt” the age-old, tried and tested, and successful mandi system that allows for the implementation of minimum support price (MSP) in the state. It also intended to create a “division” between arhtiyas (commission agents) and farmers in the state, he claimed.

This letter is part of a “larger conspiracy” to stall the procurement of wheat crops in Punjab and destroy the state's agricultural economy, he alleged.

Sidhu said according to Goyal, the revenue department of the state government had all the information about the land records of the state’s farmers.

But according to the data collected by the National Sample Survey for year 2012-13, it shows that more than 24 per cent of the land under cultivation in Punjab is under tenancy, he added.

“These tenancy contracts are oral or unwritten in nature,” he said, adding that the land under tenancy might have increased and not decreased over the years.

If the sale of wheat crop is allowed with ownership rights, then about 25 to 30 per cent farmers will not receive payment for sale of their crops, he claimed.

The former Punjab minister accused the centre of planning to “destroy” the state's successful Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee model and also questioned the timing of the letter.

“The timing of this letter is further questionable as farmers prepare for cultivation of Rabi crop,” he said.

He emphasised that the state and its people should come together and build “an alternative economic model” for Punjab's agricultural prosperity. PTI CHS VSD RHL