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Vikash Sharma

Bhubaneswar: After Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his recent Jharsuguda visit expressed concerns over the fact that Odisha farmers are not getting the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for their produce, NITI Aayog has now swung into action and sought certain crucial information from the State government.

The Odisha Food and Civil Supplies Department has now asked the Agriculture department officials to compile crop-wise data on MSP provided to farmers during the last four years.

NITI Aayog has also sought detailed information regarding the total number of farmers in the State during 2014-15 and 2018-19, the number of farmers who availed MSP (crop wise) between 2014-15 and 2017-18 and the distance of procurement centres from storage and milling points.

It is pertinent to mention here that Odisha farmers have been staging demonstrations at regular intervals demanding ‘Price, Prestige and Pension.’

Though Odisha Food and Consumer Welfare Minister denied commenting on the NITI Aayog letter, he had informed Odisha Assembly that the government had procured paddy from 29.23 lakh farmers (including small, medium and marginal) last year.

“It is surprising that the Centre has once again sought data of last four years. It seems that the Centre is not able to discharge its duties or the facts provided are not being stored properly,” said BJD spokesperson, Sasmit Patra.

“Due to inefficiency of administrative officials and nexus with millers, there is distress sale of paddy in several parts of Odisha. In the name of FAQ, there is a reduction by 5 to 15 kg per quintal of procurement,” alleged farmer leader, Saroj.

Similarly, keeping in view the large-scale irregularities during paddy procurement, the BJP had recently announced that its members will guard 'mandis' to check such unscrupulous practice.

“There is no need to hide facts and the state government should inform what problems are being faced. The move will certainly put a check and eliminate corruption in the procurement process,” said Odisha BJP general secretary, Prithviraj Harichandan.

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