HYDERABAD: Weeks after TRS president and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao launched a broadside against the three new farm laws, he appeared to be on the same page as the Centre on Sunday on those contentious legislations.For, the State government decided to stop procurement of paddy and other crops at the village level, as the Centre’s new law permits farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country.
The change in line came close on the heels of the Chief Minister’s visit to Delhi on December 13, during which he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah. The visit came after the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation elections, where the BJP did remarkably well.
Contrast that with his position in early December, when he extended support to the farmers protesting against the three laws and had asked his party cadre to make the December 8 Bharat Bandh a grand success, and the shift in stand appears stark.
Another nugget in Sunday’s basket of decisions was to nix regulated cropping, which till now was one of his major policy initiatives in the farm sector. The State government decided to let farmers choose whatever they want to cultivate.
The Chief Minister took these decisions during a meeting with various Ministers and senior Agriculture Department officials. In a press statement after the meeting, the state government said: “As the new agriculture laws of the Central government permit farmers to sell their crop anywhere in the country, the State government need not set up purchasing centres in villages.”
One reason for scrapping regulated cropping, which was implemented for two seasons this year, could be the government’s inability to provide bonus to superfine rice cultivators due to Food Corporation of India (FCI) norms.
Bandi welcomes decision
BJP State president Bandi Sanjay welcomed Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao’s decision to withdraw the regulated cropping system and adhere to the Centre’s Farm Acts. He demanded a public apology from Rao to farmers for bringing in regulated cropping in the first place.In a statement released here on Sunday, Bandi said the CM had changed his opinion on the Farm Acts after opposing them for four months.
Stating that the BJP has been opposing the regulated cropping policy, Bandi said, “Farmers must have a free hand to choose what they want to grow. But the dictatorial CM did not pay attention to our requests.”
Alleging that funds allocated for soil tests by the Centre were diverted, he said, “After Narendra Modi came into power, the Centre gave funds to conduct soil tests in each acre to choose suitable crops for the agricultural lands. But the funds were diverted. We demand that the State government conduct soil tests and bring reforms to make agriculture profitable.”The BJP State chief asked the State government to connect market yards with E-NAM system to ensure better prices for farmers.
The Telangana government will, however, continue to provide financial assistance to farmers under the Rythu Bandhu scheme. The Chief Minister announced that the disbursement of financial aid would begin from Monday for this year’s Yasangi season. A total of Rs 7,515 crore would be provided to 61.49 lakh farmers cultivating 1.52 crore acres of land, at the rate of Rs 5,000 per acre.
At the meeting, Agriculture Department officials pointed out that the State government had incurred losses to the tune of Rs 7,500 crore till date, as it had purchased various crops from farmers, including paddy, sorghum, maize, red gram, Bengal gram and sunflower, at the Minimum Support Price (MSP), but was forced to sell them at lower prices in the market due to low demand. They pointed out that the situation was the same everywhere, and pinned losses due to paddy at Rs 3,935 crore, and that of corn at Rs 1,547.59 crore. The State government also decided to continue with the Rythu Bima scheme, despite the doubling of premium and this year’s installment coming up to Rs 1,144 crore.
Govt to retain Rythu Bandhu scheme
The Telangana government will, however, continue to provide financial assistance to farmers under the Rythu Bandhu scheme. Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao announced that the disbursement of financial aid would begin from Monday for this year’s Yasangi season