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Farmers Block Roads in Protest Against Slow & Conditional Paddy Procurement

Ayushi Raina
Ayushi Raina
Farmers blocked Roads in Protest

Farmers in Haryana blocked highways in protest over poor and conditional paddy procurement in grain mandis. Farmers blocked the Delhi-Chandigarh NH-44 near Kurukshetra, causing traffic congestion for several kilometres on one of the country's busiest highways.

Farmers lifted the blockage of NH-44 after the government assured to speed up procurement processes beginning from October 6. Thousands of commuters were stuck for many hours due to the blockage, which lasted for more than six hours.

Protesters from Kaithal district blocked the Hisar-Chandigarh highway at Pehowa Chowk. Till the evening, the blockage was lifted. Local gurdwaras were providing langar to commuters who were stranded due to traffic jams. Following the farmers' hours-long blockage of the roads, the Kurukshetra police issued an advisory to commuters travelling on the NH-44 and NH-152 Ambala-Hisar highways.

Commuters on NH-44 were recommended to take other routes from Shahbad-Ladwa-Indri to Karnal, while those on NH-152 were advised to take the Thol-Jhansa and Malikpur link roads.

Mukul Kumar,the deputy commissioner of Kurukshetra, stated that the problem has been taken up at the headquarters level and the issue would be handled shortly.

The protestors said that government agencies are not purchasing the crop and that majority of the paddy has been lying in the mandis unprocured for the past few days, despite the government claiming that procurement had begun in all Haryana mandis from October 3.

Ramesh Kumar of the Kaithal district claimed that he has been waiting for purchasers of his produce since September 30 and that no one has arrived to buy his paddy harvest.

Haryana BKU (Charuni) spokesman Rakesh Bains stated that “the government agencies have been refusing to purchase the paddy that has been lingering in the mandis for several days due to excessive moisture content.”

Bains said," the government has set a limit of 25 quintal per acre, although the average per acre output of Parmal varieties remains at 35 quintal. He stated that the protest will continue until the government changes the procurement norms."

BKU president Gurnam Singh Charuni has vowed to renew the agitation again and has invited his supporters and farmers to gherao the homes of BJP-JJP MLAs and MPs on October 6th if the paddy lying in mandis is not procured.

As per the procurement officials, rice millers are yet to participate in the procurement process because they are opposed to the new deposit norm of 5% of the entire value of paddy to be supplied to them for milling under the custom-milled rice policy.

“Because the government and rice millers have yet to strike an agreement, paddy lifting could not begin in mandis,” said a mandi official pleading anonymity.

Anurag Rastogi, additional chief secretary to the Haryana food, civil supplies, and consumer affairs department, stated that procurement of paddy in Haryana mandis began on October 3rdand gate passes for the procurement of nearly 3.60 lakh tonne paddy were generated on the Haryana e-Kharid portal.

The ACS, however, did not offer figures for total paddy arriving in mandis and lying unprocured, but stated that the situation will be normalised within the next few days.

What farmers want?

• Prior to commencing procurement, paddy lying in mandis should be acquired.

• Paddy with a moisture content beyond the permitted limit of 17% shall be purchased with a reduction in MSP.

• The procurement limit per acre should be increased from 25 quintal to 30 quintal.

• Procured paddy in mandis should be removed quickly to create room for additional paddy in mandis.

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