National

Ministry withdraws note ban report

Reversing its earlier report that conceded for the first time that demonetisation had affected millions of farmers, the Union Agriculture Ministry has submitted a fresh report claiming that there was no “adverse impact.” Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agarwal informed the Parliamentary Panel on Finance that show-cause notice had been served on two Directors and a Joint Secretary on Tuesday for the earlier report.

According to official sources, Mr. Agarwal said the report submitted on November 20 was not vetted by him as he was leaving on an overseas tour, and could not find time to see it. The earlier report had a “compilation error” because of which it had been withdrawn by the government.

The Hindu had reported on November 21 on the Ministry’s earlier submission, which said “millions of farmers were unable to get enough cash to buy seeds and fertilizers for their winter crops”.

The earlier report had said that even bigger landlords were affected as they could not pay daily wages and buy inputs.

Chairman of the Committee Veerappa Moily and other members pulled up the Ministry for submitting diametrically opposite reports. “It is very unusual for the Ministry to replace a report it has submitted. It looks like there was pressure from certain quarters on the Ministry,” an Opposition member said.

The Ministry submitted a detailed report on Tuesday which in its concluding remarks noted: “As such, measures undertaken by the government ensured that there was no adverse impact on the agriculture sector.”

In the fresh report, seen by The Hindu, the Ministry claimed that a multi-pronged strategy was adopted to ensure availability of credit, seeds, fertilizers and marketing avenues for the farmers. To support its claim, the Ministry submitted a series of statistics saying that Rabi area sown in 2015-16 was 612.28 lakh hectare which increased to 635.29 lakh hectare. The financial year 2016-17 only had four months post-demonetisation. The note ban was announced on November 8, 2016. In financial year 2017-18 there was a dip in area of lakh hectare sown from 635.29 lakh hectare to 628 lakh hectare.

The report also said that food grain production in Rabi 2016-17 increased from 1264.50 lakh tons in 2015-16 to 1367.78 lakh tons and then to 1441.02 lakh tons in 2017-18.

“It is not about increase in production. It is about the remuneration that the farmers got. Did they get a good price for their crops,” Ritika Khera, associate professor, IIM Ahmedabad said.

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Printable version | Nov 26, 2020 2:04:43 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/ministry-withdraws-note-ban-report/article25608445.ece

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