In a bid to assuage farmers’ concern, the Centre on Friday said that it would provide the States, including Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, with the assistance needed in the procurement of paddy.
Union Food Minister K V Thomas said this at the end of an impromptu discussion initiated during the Zero Hour, following the uproar over the issue by members from the Samajwadi Party, the RJD, the BJD and the Trinamool storming into the Well, demanding immediate statement from the government.
The issue was raised by Jagdambika Pal (Congress). It generated much heat with the SP, RJD and BJP members supporting his contention and the SP and RJD members even storming into the Well seeking an immediate statement from the government.
Pal’s contention that the procurement agencies were turning farmers away by raising the issue of dampness and moisture in paddy, came in for strong support from SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and his RJD counterpart Lalu Prasad.
The RJD chief and Shahnawaz Hussain (BJP) said that similar problems were being faced by farmers even in Bihar.
Hussain also said while state governments of Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh were procuring the entire paddy cultivation from farmers, the Centre was not doing the same. “The Centre is only giving assurances. There is no action.”
When several members from the Opposition benches wanted a reply from the Food Minister, Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram said he would convey their feelings to him. He also said that a meeting of the officials of the states concerned would be convened to sort out the issue.
Refusing to yield, members from the SP, BJD, the Left, RJD and Trinamool Congress trooped into the Well shouting slogans.
The Opposition members continued to shout slogans until Thomas reached the House. Thomas said that a high-level delegation will visit Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to look into the problems in the procurement of paddy, especially quality issues. “Whatever assistance is needed, it will be done,” he assured the House. Thomas also said that if necessary the government would provide more staff for FCI in Uttar Pradesh.