BHAWANIPATNA/JEYPORE/SONEPUR: Alleging gross irregularities in rabi paddy procurement in mandis, Bharatiya Janata Party took to the streets across Kalahandi, Sonepur and Koraput districts on July 1, 2021. The saffron party leaders staged demonstrations and road blockades demanding procurement of unsold paddy from the farmers under the MSP fixed by the Central government.
Farmers in Kalahandi alleged that the 12-day window given in the tokens to sell the paddy was not enough. Delay on the part of the Indravati project to stop the release of water in the canal hampered harvesting. This problem was further compounded by millers taking their own sweet time to lift paddy to the mandis. While some tokens that had expired between June 15 and June 19 were re-validated with the intervention of the district administration, the rest 1,094 lapsed tokens received a blind eye from the corporation.
Kalahandi district had received a target to procure 24.20 lakh quintals of paddy but closed the process at 23.08 lakh quintals. Adding to woes, tokens of 1,094 farmers lapsed and were not renewed by the civil supply corporation. Secretary of Dasigaon society Bishnu Sahu was suspended by the management on the direction of the Assistant Registrar of Cooperative Societies (ARCS) on June 16 for gross mismanagement leading to lapse of tokens.
Angry with such mismanagement, activists staged blockade over Hati river bridge at Junagarh on NH-26 demanding re-validation of lapsed tokens and procurement of unsold stock of paddy from farmers.
BJP district president Devendra Mohanty said farmers are bearing the brunt of the faulty policies of the State government.
Koraput also saw BJP activists blocking NH-26 for two hours near Ambaguda under Jeypore block, demanding an immediate resolution to the mandi issues. Shouting slogans against the State government for faulty procurement plans, the agitators called out on the ruling party for turning a deaf ear to the token lapse issue and closing mandis in the district while tonnes of paddy lay unsold.
District civil supplies officer PK Panda rushed to the spot and assured the protestors of taking up the matter with the government. Among others, former MP and BJP leader Jayaram Pangi and district BJP unit president Sumant Pradhan participated in the stir. Farmers in Sonepur locked the Rampur tehsil office and staged a dharna in front of Dunguripali block office, protesting against irregularities alleging apathy of millers in the procurement of paddy.