Bhubaneswar: Even as the State BJP is up in the arms over alleged irregularities in the procurement of unsold paddy from the farmers, the Odisha government seems to have robbed salts into the wound by outright refusing to procure the grains for the current season.
Reacting sharply on the state wide agitation taken out by the saffron front, the Minister for Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare, Ranendra Pratap Swain said that the State government would not purchase paddy from the farmers any more as the stipulated time fixed by the Centre has already lapsed.
“No more paddy would be procured after the Centrally-fixed stipulated time. A whooping 91% paddy has been procured from the farmers this Rabi season which stood at 83 per cent last year," Swain added.
On the BJP's current protest over alleged mismanagement in lifting of paddy, the Minister said it was their party's last resort political compulsion.
"The BJP's move is nothing but a political compulsion out of frustration. Rabi crops are grown in 17 districts of Odisha. Why the BJP is taking to the streets in all 30 districts," Swain asked.
“I would like to invite them (BJP leaders) to discuss with me if they have any issues. I would specially look into their complaints, if any," the Minister maintained.
The BJP, on the other hand, hit back at Swain for being apathetic towards the plight of farmers.
“Is Minister Randra Pratap Swain aware of the token duration? It is only 12 days. Why the duration has been reduced from 30 days to 12 only? If the government fails to lift the paddy from the farmers within 12 days, is it the mistake of farmers?, asked BJP Krushak Morcha President Pradeep Purohit.
Millers are managing the Mandis in the State which is not seen in any other States. What actions the Minister has taken against the erring millers, Purohit questioned.
The BJP leader further said that his party had written to the government several times over irregularities. But, action has been taken, he said.
Alleging massive irregularities and State government’s apathy towards farmers, the State BJP had carried out two-day protests on July 1 and 2 across the State. The party leaders and activists demonstrated in front of all market yards and CSO (Civil Supplies Office) in block and district levels demanding extension and re-validation of expired token issued to the farmers and lifting of unsold paddy from the Mandis.
The party alleged that procurement affairs are directly controlled by the millers in connivance with the government officials pushing farmers into distress.
The BJP MLAs had also written to Chief Minister Naveen Patanik urging him to keep open all Mandis across the State till July 15 as the farmers failed to sell their grains despite having the token due to faulty polices in the procurement system.