Block office bears brunt of farm protest
Stepping up protest over procurement woes and irregularities in token system, farmers of Ambabhona dumped unsold paddy bags outside the block office on Tuesday.
BARGARH: Stepping up protest over procurement woes and irregularities in token system, farmers of Ambabhona dumped unsold paddy bags outside the block office on Tuesday. Functioning of the block office was paralysed as the farmers under the banner of ‘Lal Bahadur Shastri Krushak Sangathan’ staged dharna demanding resumption of the procurement process.
Earlier in the morning, hundreds of farmers reached the block office near Bhukta village and dumped around two tractor loads of paddy bags outside. The agitators did not even allow the officials to enter the office. Besides, the farmers also locked the Ambabhona tehsil office.
The agitators alleged that the Civil Supplies department has stopped procurement for the kharif season from January 15 due to which many farmers have not been able to sell their stock. Moreover, a large quantity of paddy has been left unsold with the farmers due to irregularities in the token system. While tokens of many farmers have lapsed, others have received the tokens after the closure of market yard, they said.
Secretary of the farmers’ outfit Sankar Khamari said around 373 farmers of the villages under Bhukta market yard have failed to sell their produce as the market yard was closed early. While token of 90 farmers already lapsed, as many as 283 farmers received tokens after January 15. The farmers with lapsed tokens have around 7,749 bags of paddy, about 3,500 quintal, lying unsold. Similarly, around 1,200 quintal paddy of 283 farmers, who received the tokens after January 15, is yet to be sold.
“We want the State government to reopen market yards and continue procurement till March 31. Besides, lapsed tokens of farmers should also be renewed,” Khamari added. The farmers’ agitation was continuing till reports last came in. Block development officer Alphonse Bilung said Ambabhona administration has nothing to do with procurement but farmers dumped their paddy in front of the office.
The matter has been brought to the notice of higher authorities. On Monday, the farmers had staged dharna outside Bhukta market yard and blocked the State highway connecting Odisha and Chhattisgarh over similar demand.