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Ramakanta Biswas

Bhubaneswar: The heat of farmers’ protest against token system in paddy procurement was felt in the Odisha Assembly on Tuesday with Opposition BJP and Congress demanding immediate withdrawal of the new rule.

The BJP and Congress legislators demanded withdrawal of the centralised token system and reintroduction of earlier method for paddy procurement, i.e. Paddy Procurement Automation System (P-PAS). Besides, they demanded that the district paddy procurement committee should be given the authority to buy paddy directly from the farmers.

The Opposition strongly criticised the Odisha government over distress sale of paddy, middlemen menace and mismanagement in mandis.

Taking a dig at State Food Supply and Consumer Welfare minister, Congress MLA Santosh Singh Saluja said the State government is facing criticism for the faulty policy of the minister.

“The minister had decided to procure paddy from November 15. Why did the minister not distribute tokens among the farmers prior to the commencement of the paddy procurement? The minister did not answer the question in the Assembly,” said Congress Leader Narasingha Mishra.

BJP MLA Jayanarayan Mishra also echoed similar views and said, “The token system has completely failed and paddy is not being procured. There is not one iota of truth in the answer given by the minister on the issue in the Assembly today.”

“The paddy procurement process has been digitised and token system has been introduced to ensure that small and marginal farmers get best price of paddy. Adequate tokens have reached the State and I have also given the record on the number of tokens in the Assembly today,” said concerned minister Ranendra Pratap Swain.

Meanwhile, Bargarh MP Suresh Pujari also raised questions in the Parliament over crop insurance policy. “The crop insurance scheme has totally fallen flat in the State. Insurance companies are expressing unwillingness to provide compensation as per the losses incurred by farmers. Farmers across the state particularly in Sambalpur, Jharsuguda and Bargarh are protesting that they are yet to get the money of the crop loss they incurred last year,” Pujari said.

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