Punjab Chief Minister Mr. Parkash Singh Badal Sharing a point of view with Union Food, Consumer Affairs, Public Distribution and Agriculture Minister, Mr. Sharad Pawar and Haryana Chief Minister Mr. Bhupinder Singh Hooda during a meeting regarding wheat procurement arrangements at Chandigarh.
CHANDIGARH APRIL 7:The Punjab Chief Minister Mr. Parkash Singh Badal today demanded a bonus of Rs.400 per quintal on wheat procured by the Government agencies. Mr.Badal also strongly pleaded for putting in place a permanent mechanism for deciding lucrative prices of food grains and other agriculture products. Speaking at a meeting in which the Union Agriculture Minister Mr. Sharad Pawar, Haryana Chief Minister Mr.Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Ministers of Agriculture, Food & Civil Supplies from the two agricultural leading states also took part. Mr. Badal suggested that either the MSP should be linked with Consumer Price Index or calculated on the basis of formula recommended by the noted farm economist Dr.MS Swaminathan, under which the MSP should be equal to the cost of production plus 50%.
Mr.Badal refuted the claim that farmers were being given more lucrative Minimum Support Prices for their produce than they were paid during the NDA regime at the Centre. "Farmers always got MSP higher than the prevailing international prices of wheat and paddy during the NDA period while the price offer to them now was considerably lower than the union government was paying for importing Wheat", he said, adding that this was the sole reason why procurement had registered a fall over the past few years despite MSP of wheat crossing Rs.1000 per quintal.
Mr.Badal also urged the GoI to announce the demanded bonus immediately to encourage the farmers to bring their produce to mandis so that the states could meet the desired target of procurement fixed by the Centre. While procurement target for Punjab is fixed at 80 lakh MT, Haryanas’ is slated to procure 40 lakh MT of the grain. The Chief Minister also impressed upon Mr. Pawar to direct the FCI to relax the prescribed specifications of wheat for procurement due to untimely rains. Among the other major issues raised by Mr.Badal was the sheet-lining of the Rajasthan and Sirhind canals at a cost of Rs.400 crore in order to combat the menace of devastating water-logging in the most fertile cotton belt of the country falling in the Malwa region of the state that had engulfed approximately 325 villages roughly affecting an area of over 3 lakh acres. Mr. Sharad Pawar responded positively to the proposal and said that he would take up the matter with his cabinet colleagues in New Delhi sympathetically. He also asked Mr. Pawar to include PUSA 1121 paddy in the category of Basmati to ensure remunerative price of their produce.
The Chief Minister also rued the decision of GoI for giving meager relief for crop damaged by natural calamities. He said that the concept of relief should be replaced by total compensation. He however said that the state government had already enhanced the scale of compensation from Rs.2000 to Rs.5000 per acre. He said that the paltry sum of Rs.1600 as relief paid by the Centre was not commensurate with the magnitude of loss suffered by the farmers. He requested the Union Government to include frost in the list of natural calamities to enable the farmers to get compensation. He said that recently the Punjabi farmers had suffered huge losses due to damage caused by frost to vegetables and fruit.
Mr. Badal also asked the Union Government to formulate clear cut import policies for the purchase of fertilizers, especially the DAP. He emphasized the need to specify the panel of importers for the smooth purchase of fertilizers through the Markfed. He also urged Mr. Pawar to fix modalities to ensure the supply of DAP at the block level to save the hapless farmers from undue harassment. The Chief Minister demanded uninterrupted supply of DAP as per state’s requisite quota for the Kharif–2008.
Taking part in the deliberations, Haryana Chief Minister Mr.Bhupinder Singh Hooda welcomed the suggestions put forth by Mr.Badal and agreed that both Punjab and Haryana shared common agricultural legacy and had similar problems which must be addressed at the top priority.
Mr. Pawar disclosed that Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh would shortly convene a meeting of all the Chief Ministers to thoroughly deliberate the issue of price rise and to seek their suggestions to effectively combat the crisis afflicting the farm sector. Meanwhile, a joint committee of officers from Punjab, Haryana as well as the representatives of FCI would give recommendations for relaxation of the norms for procurement of wheat in wake of the damage caused due to untimely rains and hailstorm. He also assured the Chief Minister that he would soon take up the issue with Prime Minister for an early announcement of bonus to the farmers of Punjab & Haryana besides recommending the case of adequate compensation to those farmers who had suffered loss to their crops due to unseasonal rains and hailstorm.
Prominent amongst others who attended the meeting included Agriculture Minister Sucha Singh Langha, Food & Supplies Minister Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, Media Advisor to Chief Minister Harcharan Bains, Agriculture Minister Haryana HS Chatha, T.Nanda Kumar, Secretary Food & Public Distribution GoI, Chairman & MD FCI Alok Sinha, Joint Secretary Policy Ministry of Food & Public distribution Siraz Hussain, Chief Secretary Punjab RI Singh, Chief Secretary Haryana Dharamvir, Executive Director North FCI JP Sharma, General Manager FCI Punjab Sarvjit Singh, GM FCI Haryana Arun Kumar Gupta, Principal Secretary to CM Punjab DS Guru, Financial Commissioner Taxation SS Brar, Principal Secretary Food & Supplies RPS Pawar, Financial Commissioner Food Haryana LSM Salius, Financial Commissioner Agriculture Haryana Raj Kumar, Financial Commissioner Development Punjab RS Sandhu, Director Food & Supplies Punjab SP Singh, Director Food & Supplies Haryana Anil Malik.