Wheat procurement slowest in Haryana, ryots not being paid timely: Deepender

Chandigarh, May 15 (PTI) Congress leader Deepender Singh Hooda on Friday alleged that wheat procurement in Haryana was the slowest in the country and farmers were not getting timely payment.

He also said that as the principal opposition party in the state, the Congress has made it clear that it will extend full cooperation to the government in the fight against COVID-19, but at the same time it will raise the issues concerning farmers, poor, other sections or any 'anti-people' decisions of the ruling dispensation. Alleging mismanagement in the wheat procurement in Haryana, he said, 'In the entire country, it is the slowest procurement. Lifting is very slow and timely payments are not being made'.

Hooda, who is a Rajya Sabha MP and the lone opposition parliamentarian from the state, said a bumper wheat harvest of 120 Lakh Metric Tonne (LMT) was expected this year against 94 LMT in the previous year, but the government made an estimation of arrival of only 75 LMT, out of which only 65 LMT had arrived in mandis.

'Out of the 65 LMT wheat arrivals in mandis, only 37 LMT wheat has been lifted. A payment of Rs 12,500 crore had to be made for procuring 65 LMT, but so far only Rs 1,500 crore has been paid to farmers. Nearly Rs 11,000 crore payment is due, that too when the government assured the farmers that payment will be made within 72 hours after crop arrival,' he said.

Wheat procurement began in Haryana on April 20.

On the contrary, Hooda said, entire procurement has been made in neighbouring Punjab despite a bumper harvest in the state.

He said the recently announced 'Mera Pani Meri Virasat' crop diversification scheme by the Haryana government is 'not a correct move as it would deprive a large number of farmers from cultivating the paddy crop'.

'This is not the right time to experiment with such schemes. Farmers are already going through a lot of hardship. The government should help them in this hour of crisis,' he said.

Replying to a question, Hooda said he was against some BJP-ruled states, including Uttar Pradesh, amending labour laws 'under the cover of a pandemic to lure foreign investors'.

On Haryana blaming Punjab for allowing a number of migrants, who have set out on foot, to cross into the state, the Congress MP said it was not the time for blame-game but to work together to provide help to the stranded workers.

He attacked the Manohar Lal Khattar dispensation, saying several cases have come to fore in Haryana where migrant workers have not been paid by the units where they worked, leaving them with no option but to head for their native states.

He also claimed that NGOs and other social organisations provided 80 per cent relief to the migrant workers and others who were stranded due to the lockdown and kept in relief shelters.

He demanded that the government should help the daily wagers, small shopkeepers, auto-rickshaw drivers, middle class, poor sections and small and medium enterprises, which have been adversely impacted by the coronavirus-triggered lockdown.

'The government will have to ensure that people have money to spend otherwise wheels of economy will not move. When people will get relief, especially middle class, poor, farmers when they get relief and consumers will start spending, only then can it help the economy,' he said.

On the issue of theft of huge stock of seized liquor from two godowns in Sonipat and setting up of a probe committee by the government, Hooda wondered whether an impartial investigation can be possible.

Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij himself said that theft could not have been possible without involvement of excise and police department officials, then how can a fair inquiry be possible in this backdrop, Hooda asked.

He, however, did not make it categorical when asked if a CBI probe should be ordered and said some independent investigation should be there in which people have faith. PTI SUN VSD CK