CHANDIGARH: Punjab, the epicentre of farmers’ protest against the Centre’s new agri laws, has virtually barred produce coming from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, with trucks being stopped at the borders.
The step has been taken as local traders and rice millers are purchasing paddy from UP and Bihar at Rs 900-Rs 1,100 per quintal, which is much below the minimum support price of Rs 1,888 at which they sell it to state agencies in Punjab.
After paying a transportation cost of Rs 100-200 per quintal, they make a clear profit of at least Rs 500 per quintal but in the process, cause huge losses to state government and farmers.
Punjab government fears glutting of it mandis by outside farmers will impact the disbursal of cash credit limit (CCL) amount to its own farmers.
With Rs 30,220 crore of CCL approved by the RBI, the state might fall short of the amount for its own farmers if those from outside come and sell their produce in Punjab.
The government’s step, however, is in contravention of new central laws which permit free movement of agricultural produce between states.
A official of the state food and civil supplies department said, “In the last two days, in a joint operation by police and Punjab Mandi Board, we have intercepted 39 trucks at Shambhu border carrying 30,000 bags of paddy worth about Rs 1.50 crore. Cases against eight truck owners have been registered and their vehicles have been seized.’’
Onkar Singh Agaul, general secretary of Bhartiya Kisan Union (Rajewal), said, “Three-four days after the procurement began on September 26, this racket was started by traders.”
We will fight farm laws in SC: Punjab CM
With consensus among Punjab Congress MLAs on not implementing the farm laws in the state, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh was authorised by his cabinet to take any legislative or legal decision he may deem fit to protect the interests of farmers.
The cabinet decided that a strategy to counter the ‘black farm laws’ will be finalised ahead of the two-day special assembly session from Monday.
“We will fight this in the Supreme Court,” Amarinder said at a meeting of the Congress Legislative Party. The unconstitutional laws, which were against federalism, had to be countered effectively, the MLAs said.