BHUBANESWAR: Amid protest over mandi mismanagement leading to non-procurement of rabi paddy, Odisha's BJP wing urged the State government on July 1, 2021, to request the Centre for time extension till July 15 for purchase of unsold paddy from farmers under the minimum support price (MSP).
In a letter to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, 10 BJP MLAs sought his intervention to sort out the problems faced by the farmers due to closure of paddy purchase centres.
“The centralised token system for sale of paddy under the price support system has proved to be a bane. Deliberate delay in lifting the paddy stocks of farmers has resulted in lapsing of tokens while many farmers registered under paddy procurement automation system could not get a single token during the two-month long procurement period,” the letter said.
Since the mandis are rice miller-driven, the officials of the regulated market committees (RMCs) and secretaries of the primary agriculture cooperative societies (PACS) have no control over the procurement.
The problem has been persisting since the launch of the centralised token system and the BJP had raised the issue during the Winter and Budget sessions of the Assembly, said Opposition Chief Whip Mohan Majhi.
The mismanagement in the issue of token and paddy procurement was also pointed out by a Central team in its report after visiting four RMC market yards in four districts including Nayagarh, the district of Agriculture Minister Arun Sahoo. Instead of taking action against the corrupt mandi officials, the government has left the farmers to fend for themselves. The apathy of the government has led to distress sale of paddy while some farmers are still agitating for procurement of their stocks.
“Since the mandis have been closed, it is the responsibility of the State government to request the Centre for further extension of time. We urged the Chief Minister to take up the matter with the Centre,” said BJP general secretary Prithiviraj Harichandan.
Describing the BJP agitation a farce, Government Chief Whip in the Assembly Pramila Mallick said the saffron party is seeking attention of the public to stay relevant. “The entire paddy purchase is done by the FCI which decides during which time kharif and rabi procurement will be done. June 30 was the last date for rabi procurement. Let the BJP ask the Centre for time extension,” she remarked.