Tuesday, October 1, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Centre gives Rs 20 relief on MSP for paddy
Tribune News Service

Left to right : Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala and former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal at a meeting
Left to right : Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala and former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal at a meeting on paddy in New Delhi on Monday. 
— Tribune photo Mukesh Aggarwal

New Delhi, September 30
Bowing to pressure from drought-hit states, the Centre today announced a relief package of Rs 400 crore, including Rs 20 per quintal above the minimum support price of paddy announced last week.

Announcing the decision, Agriculture Minister Ajit Singh said the relief should not be considered a hike in the minimum support price, but was “drought relief.”

The decision came after Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala, former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Rajnath Singh and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leader Yerran Naidu met Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee this evening. Union Chemicals and Fertiliser Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Mr Sukhbir S. Badal were also in the delegation.

The relief will be over and above the MSP for paddy retained at last year’s level of Rs 530 and Rs 560 per quintal for Grade A.

The Centre also announced a relief of Rs 20 per quintal on groundnut, Rs 10 on soyabean Rs 15 on sunflower, Rs 5 each for moong, urad and seasum and Rs 20 for raw cotton.

Mr Ajit Singh said the relief was based on the second report of the Commission on Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) submitted last week, which also recommended a rollback in fertiliser prices to the pre-budget levels and writing off interest on farm loans for a year.

He said while the relief on procurement prices was finalised today, the other two recommendations would be considered at the next meeting of the Cabinet.

“Since procurement has started, the additional relief over MSP assumed urgency,” Mr Ajit Singh said. Asked if he was satisfied with the increase, Mr Chautala said since no hike had been made in the MSP this year despite drought, the delegation convinced the Centre on giving relief to farmers.

Mr Badal said efforts to get more relief for farmers would continue. He said the the party would pursue other demands which are to be taken up at the next meeting of the union cabinet.

The SAD chief called upon Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to implement his party’s election promise of giving relief Rs 30 per quintal to farmers “at least from this season.” “The total relief to farmers then would be Rs 50 per quintal,” Mr Badal said.

He said that relief announced by the Centre would have been greater had Capt Amarinder Singh pursued the case of farmers with the Centre at the appropriate time. The NDA leaders also gave a memorandum to the Prime Minister.

Drawing the attention of the Prime Minister to the “pathetic plight of farmers” in their states, the NDA partners said the farming community was faced with one of the worst crises in recent years.

The leaders said the cost of agricultural inputs had been rising and the farmers had to face the added scourge of drought this year. ``Every region has been by this natural disaster in varying degrees. The extent of damage in our states varies from 50 per cent to 70 per cent.


Farmers reject relief on paddy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 30
Farmers’ organisations, the Congress and the Left parties have rejected the meagre relief of Rs 20 per quintal announced by the Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in Delhi today. The PM had announced an additional relief of Rs 20 per quintal on paddy and Rs 10 on groundnut, besides announcing a rollback in the increase in the prices of fertilisers.

Mr Pishora Singh Sidhupur, president, Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta), who is spearheading the protest here for the past eight days, said, “The Centre has recognised its mistake of not increasing the MSP. However, the relief being inadequate, we would continue our protest till the government agrees to provide at least Rs 100 per quintal additional relief on paddy.”

Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, president, Bharti Kisan Union, Ludhiana, said, “We welcome the government's step but would continue our protest as the relief is less. We would block traffic at Khanna tomorrow.”

Mr Surinder Singla, Chairman, High Powered Committee Financial Advisory Committee on reforms, said,“ This is the first recognition of the Congress' protest continuing for the past few days at the PM's residence. However, the Centre should recognise the fact that the farmers have incurred additional expenditure on diesel and paddy to save their crops.”

Choudhary Jagdish Singh, Minister for Local Bodies, Punjab, said,“ It is unfortunate that the Centre is playing politics on this serious issue, concerning lakhs of farmers in the state. We expect that the government would further increase the relief in the next few days. The CM has already deputed all MLAs and ministers to inspect the procurement operations in the constituencies, starting from tomorrow.”

Mr Joginder Dyal, secretary, state unit of the CPI, and Prof Balwant Singh, secretary, state unit of the CPM, in a joint statement, rejected the meagre relief and added that an all-party meeting called by them to discuss the emerging situation would be held tomorrow.Back

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