Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Feb 7:
For once, it was not the usual suspects – the Congress and BJD – but its very own MLAs who caused the BJD government embarassment in the Odisha Assembly on Saturday.
Former minister Surya Narayn Patro created a flutter in the House when he took on the government on the issue of paddy procurement.
“Neither the farmer nor the government employees are able to understand the paddy procurement policy in Ganjam distric till date. While the district collector says something, the sub-collector says something else. The farmers are keeping their fingers crossed with their produce. Such situation in English is called ‘failing’ and nothing else,” said Patra.
Patra was joined by another party MLA from Ganjam district in lambasting the paddy procurement policy.
Members cutting across party lines alleged that paddy procurement was in a complete mess in the state and the Food Supply department was not procuring paddy from farmers while paddy filled in gunny bags was lying unsold at mandis leading to distress sale by farmers and bumper profits for millers and their middlemen from neighbouring states.
Members accused officials at mandis of deducting 10 kg of paddy per quintal from farmers and not paying them the approved price for their produce. Farmers were being paid between Rs 700 to Rs 900 per quintal instead of the approved value of Rs 1360, they said.
Opposition chief whip Taraparasd Bahinipati was the most vocal in the Opposition ranks in condemning the government for making a mess of paddy procurement.
“I have requested the Speaker for a ruling on the issue. The Minister should reply to the questions raised on the matter in the House. The government will be fully responsible if any farmer commits suicide after being unable to sell his paddy,” said the Jeypore MLA.
Basant Panda, leader of the BJP legislature party, joined in with his customary rhetorical flourish. “After slogging hard in the rain and sun, the farmer is unable to sell his produce. It would not be wrong to say that the Odisha government is in the grip of mill owners and brokers. These people are only shedding crocodile tears for the farmers and nothing else,” he said speaking to reporters outside the House.
The BJD was predictably defensive on the issue.
“The government has made all arrangements for farmers to get suitable prices for their paddy. Exceptions to this have not been specifically alleged by the opposition members. Their allegation was general in nature,” said BJD spokesperson Amar Satpathy.