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Mrunal Manmay Dash

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Lok Sabha Members from Odisha met the Union Minister of Consumers Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Piyush Goyal on Wednesday to draw his attention on the alleged scuttling of paddy procurement by the government of Odisha.

The delegation of MPs including Basanta Kumar Panda, Bishweswar Tudu, Jual Oram, Nitesh Ganga Deb, Pratap Chandra Sarangi, Sangeeta Kumari Singh Deo and Suresh Pujari met Goyal in Delhi today.

Team of parliamentarians alleged that the Odisha government never acted upon the recommendations of the central fact-finding team concerning paddy procurement process as a result of which the shortcomings in the obtainment operation continue to manifest.

“In all the Regulated Market Committees (RMCs), the actual paddy procurement window is severely curtailed compared to the official window, creating panic among small and marginal farmers. A restricted procurement period disables farmers from bringing their produce to the mandi for sale and earn a fair price,” the MPs alleged in a memorandum submitted to Goyal.

“Against the official 151-day window, actual procurement window varied from as low as 40-43 days in some RMCs. Furthermore, recent strike by the employees of the PACS has delayed the opening of the Mandis, thereby causing issued tokens to be lapsed,” they alleged.

“As Mandis are not being opened at all in some RMCs. irregular lifting of rice at Mandi has created additional issue of storage of the grains for farmers in open. Farmers are spending nights guarding their produce at the Mandis, in the bone-chilling winter. This is extremely harassing for the farmers,” stated the MPs.

“Most of the Mandis Managed by PACS/WSHGs have limited storage space/godowns, this further aids to the benefit of private millers who lift the paddy at lower cost,” the letter of the MPs read.

They further alleged that failure of Odisha Government in managing the mandis and high dependence on private millers has led to lapses of issued tokens to the farmers resulting in non-realisation of fair price of their crop produce. This has led to mass distress sale by the farmers and would have dire consequences for them while coping with Pandemic/Cyclone related losses.

The BJP MPs requested Goyal’s personal intervention to resolve the issues on alleged mismanagement and corrupt practices in the paddy procurement operations in the state of Odisha. They also requested him to instruct Government of Odisha to follow the recommendations of the Fact Finding Committee of DFPD, Government of India strictly, which shall be instrumental in ensuring seamless and timely procurement of the farm produce and timely compensation to lakhs of farmers in the State of Odisha.

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