FCI bachao divas

Centre imposing strict norms through FCI, allege farmers

Say reduction of moisture content in wheat done to harass them

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 5

On the call given by the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha, farmers protested at three different places in the district to mark ‘FCI bachao divas’.

In one of the agitations outside the office of the District Food and Civil Supplies Controller farm leaders accused the Centre of trying to impose stricter norms for procurement of crop through the Food Corporation of India (FCI).

Protesters said reduction of permissible moisture content in wheat from 14 per cent to 12 per cent has been done to harass farmers so that the FCI can deny procurement of crops. They also lashed at the FCI for reducing limit of broken grains from 4 per cent to 2 per cent, stating that the available technology of harvesting of wheat in the country was such that bringing down the percentage of broken grains was impossible.

“The FCI is just trying to impose strict conditions so that when it’s asked about non-procurement of grains, it can simply say that the produce was not as per its prescribed norms. The guidelines set by it are not possible to achieve,” said Gurdev Singh Jheeta, a farm leader.

Agitators said only guaranteed minimum support price (MSP) for crops can ensure economic safety of farmers.

Rattan Singh Randhawa, another farm leader, said, “When the country was food deficient, the then Chief Minister Partap Singh Kairon and other national leaders had exhorted farmers to grow more food. Now, when the country is food sufficient, the government is trying to benefit corporates at the expense of farmers.”

Randhawa said many states in the country get royalty for their mineral resources. “Crops and water are natural resources in Punjab. If the MSP is withdrawn, livelihood of a majority of farmers will be at stake,” he said. Farmers also staged protests outside the FCI’s office and godowns.

Widespread dharnas in Tarn Taran

Farmers’ unions on Monday lodged their protest by holding dharnas in different parts of the district against the terms imposed by the Union Government in procuring wheat crops.

The farmers’ unions, affiliated with the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha, the All-India Kisanv Sabha, Jamhoori Kisan Sabha, Kisan Sangharsh Committee (Kot Budha) and others, demonstrated near the FCI office here. Pirthipal Singh Marimegha, Daljit Singh Dialpur, Jaspal Singh Jhabal, among others, addressed the gathering on the occasion.

The leaders condemned the terms being imposed on the wheat procurement to show the ownership of the land record where the wheat crop was produced and releasing payment on the procured crop directly in the accounts of the farmers. The leaders said there were so many farmers who were tilling the land on a contractual basis and these farmers would be denied to procure their produce.

The leaders said all these were the ways just to avoid procurement. Workers of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, Punjab, staged a dharna in front of the main office of the FCI in Tarn Taran.

Harpreet Singh Sidhwan, Tejinderpal Singh Raju and other leaders called upon the farmers to be ready to make any sacrifice to protect their land rights to produce crops at their own wishes.

Protest dharnas were also staged in Chabal, Patti and Bhikhiwind.

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