Chandigarh (Punjab) [India], December 27 (ANI): Former Union Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal on Sunday said that the "apprehensions of farmers were already coming true" in Punjab with the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) putting daily ceilings on procurement of cotton and affecting a four-times reduction in its purchase.
Asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take note of the actions of CCI, Harsimrat said, "Even though you have given repeated statements about the continuance of Minimum Support Price (MSP), your inability to specify anything regarding assured government purchase at MSP is already having an adverse effect on government departments."
"It is unfortunate that the CCI is not ready to procure as per even last year's schedule and is throwing cotton farmers to the mercy of private players by announcing a daily purchase ceiling of 12,500 quintals against a daily arrival of 50,000 quintals of cotton in Mandis across seven districts in Punjab," she added.
Asking the Prime Minister to set the record straight, Badal said, "A clear cut directive needs to be issued by you guaranteeing government procurement of all agricultural products listed under the MSP system. This is the need of the hour as even a government department like CCI, which has the mandate to procure cotton on MSP, is abdicating its responsibility."
"If CCI can do this, what can farmers expect from private players?" Badal asked while asking the Prime Minister to bring in simultaneous legislation making it mandatory for private players to procure farmer produce at rates not less than the MSP.
Speaking about cotton procurement by CCI in the Malwa region, Badal said even though cotton arrivals had peaked, CCI had announced that it would stagger purchase by restricting buying to only 12,500 quintals per day across twenty-two purchase centres.
Badal said that this would not only result in over-crowding at Mandis with farmers vying with each other to get their produce procured first, but would also result in corrupt practices besides distress sale of cotton to private players.
"As per the present schedule fixed by CCI, the purchase season would extend till September next year. Small farmers can neither store their produce nor wait it out for so long. They will be forced to sell cheap to private players," she said.
Stating that the situation was already precarious at major Mandis of Bathinda, Abohar, Mansa and Maur, Badal requested the Prime Minister to intervene and direct CCI to take back its arbitrary orders immediately and purchase the entire cotton arriving in Mandis across the state.
She said if this was not done the SAD would launch an agitation to ensure justice was done to the cotton growers of the state. (ANI)