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Pradeep Singh

Bhubaneswar: Recently, Western Odisha witnessed massive protests by farmers against the introduction of the token system in paddy procurement. The agitation subsided after the government assured the farmers that those without tokens can also sell their paddy. However, the farmers have once again hit the streets in the region alleging that the State government made false promises.

"I was told that within 15 days I can sell my paddy. I came to the mandi with my harvest, but the society officials are now telling that my token has vanished and my name is not there in the list. It's not a technical glitch rather the government is intentionally making such anti-farmer policies to kill us," alleged a protesting farmer.

"False assurances were given by Minister Sushant Singh and MLA Rohit Pujari that farmers can sell paddy without tokens. Besides, hundreds of farmers are yet to get tokens," said another farmer.

Demanding withdrawal of the token system, famers in Sambalpur today alleged that new tokens are not being issued by the government and a lot of errors are cropping up in the process.

"The farmers are alleging that all are not getting tokens, but we are trying to generate tokens for those who have failed to get them in the earlier phases," said Ranjan Seth, District Supplies Department official of Sambalpur.

However, State Food and Supplies Minister Ranendra Swain said that those who are on protest are 'moving in the wrong direction and they should return to the right track'. "As compared to last year's record purchase, we have so far procured 37 per cent more," said Swain.

On the other hand, it has come to the fore that internet connectivity has been a hindrance in the Primary Agriculture Cooperative Society (PACS) computerisation in Odisha. A letter of the Registrar of Cooperative Societies, Odisha, has exposed the poor maintenance & utilisation of VSAT equipment.

"... Out of 560 VSATs provided for net connectivity under PACS Computerisation programme, only 137 VSATs are reportedly online and remaining 423 are still down. The non-utilisation of this important asset is a matter of serious concerns," read the letter.

It further said that many PACS are not responding to the telephone calls of the service engineers who are trying to fix the problems. The letter also instructed that all the VSATs should be kept on during working hours.

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