SAD asks Punjab govt to declare MSP for farm fruits, vegetables

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Chandigarh, Oct 28 (PTI) The Shiromani Akali Dal on Wednesday asked the Punjab government to follow the Kerala pattern and declare the minimum support price (MSP) for fresh farm fruits and vegetables to give a boost to agriculture.

In a statement here, former minister Bikram Singh Majithia said the Congress government in Punjab should launch this scheme on the state's foundation day on November 1 in the same manner in which the Kerala government had done recently.

Majithia said while this measure would provide much-needed protection to the state's farmers against sudden price drops in times of glut, it would also pave the way for diversification. He said simultaneously the state government should also ensure that the entirety of crops listed under the MSP regime, including cotton and maize, were procured by government agencies.

'The Congress government must ensure that incase the central agencies do not purchase these crops in their entirety, the state agencies should do so as per the MSP. Then only will the rights of farmers be secure,' the SAD leader added.

Majithia said the state government should pass an ordinance if needed and follow it up with budgetary provisions for the current financial year.

'The SAD is prepared to support any such pro-farmer move,' he added. He said the government could also hold another special Vidhan Sabha session to secure the rights of farmers, as it had failed to circumvent the central agri-laws by amending the same recently.

'Besides repealing these laws completely and declaring the entire state as a single mandi (principal market yard), the government should make budgetary provisions to purchase of fruits and vegetables if the same are not purchased by private players. It should similarly form a policy to purchase cotton and maize if they are not purchased at MSP by central agencies.' Meanwhile, the SAD lashed out at what it called 'double standards' of the BJP governments at the Centre and in states on property ownership rights of citizens in different states. The party came down heavily against the 'contradiction' in the decision of the BJP government to allow property ownership rights to outsiders in Jammu and Kashmir on the one hand and denial of these rights to farmers from Punjab in Gujarat and Rajasthan under the BJP governments on the other.

Senior SAD leader Daljit Singh Cheema said, 'This deliberate contradiction between the two yardsticks smacks of strong communal prejudices. Isn't it strange that while anyone can buy and own properties, including agricultural lands, in Punjab and now in Jammu and and Kashmir, where the country's two main minority communities happen to be in a majority, Punjabis are denied the same rights in other states, notably in Gujarat and Rajasthan.

'Why no Indian citizen has the right to buy agricultural land in Himachal Pradesh,' he questioned. PTI VSD KJ KJ