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BJP’s Odisha farmer rally protests halt in paddy procurement

Paddy loaded vehicles stranded due to farmers strike at Sambalpur in Odisha. Special Arrangement.  

The Odisha unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday staged a massive protest at Sambalpur, a western Odisha town, demanding immediate procurement of paddy stocks lying at different market yards.

The State BJP summoned almost all its MPs and MLAs to participate in the farmers’ rally, and besieged the office of the Revenue Divisional Commissioner (RDC) at Sambalpur.

Farmers from 37 Assembly segments participated in the demonstration to protest non-procurement of paddy, and slashing of a small portion of paddy from every packet by procurement agencies.

Bijaypal Singh Tomar, co-in-charge of the Odisha BJP, and State president Sameer Mohanty, led the agitation. They said, “Farmers remained neglected for long under the Congress rule and they were deprived of their share of benefits. Farmers continue to languish even under the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) regime. Farmers are facing crisis due to the unholy nexus between the government and millers.”

“A farmer in Bargarh district died of cardiac arrest. Due to the incompetent State government, hundreds of paddy packets have been lying in market yards across the State. The crisis is fully man-made,” said Mr. Mohanty.

The BJP president demanded that the government should immediately do away with its token system, and purchase at the rate of 13 quintals of paddy for one acre of non-irrigated land and 19 quintals per acre of irrigated land.

BJP workers tussled with police personnel deployed to keep law and order outside the RDC’s office. Later, the police took BJP leaders into custody.

“We will not leave Sambalpur until the State government takes the decision to resume procurement at different market yards. The government must also ensure that paddy procurement is resumed smoothly,” said Suresh Pujari, Bargarh MP.

BJP leaders said the Narendra Modi government had raised MSP (minimum support price) of paddy from ₹1,310 to ₹1,860 per quintal whereas farmers in Odisha were not availing MSP. They accused the State government of turning a blind eye to distress sale of paddy in Odisha.

The BJD reacted strongly to the BJP’s agitation saying, “It is a ploy to divert attention from the growing opposition against the three farm laws in New Delhi. The State government was procuring 10 to 11 lakh metric tonnes (MT) of paddy in 2003-04, which has gone up to 65-70 MT now. This year, the State government has already procured 25% more paddy than that in the previous year.”

Ranendra Pratap Swain, State Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare and Cooperation Minister, had said the procurement of paddy was affected due to non-release of subsidy to the tune of ₹6,039 crore by the Centre.

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Printable version | Mar 1, 2021 10:09:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/bjps-odisha-farmer-rally-protests-halt-in-paddy-procurement/article33627065.ece

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