Farmers block Bathinda-Barnala NH over gunny bag crunch

Threaten to intensify protest if adequate arrangements not made in mandis to speed up procurement

Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 22

Scores of farmers under the banner of Bhartiya Kisan Union (Dakonda) today protested and blocked the Bathinda-Barnala National Highway near Kararwala village in the Rampura Phul area of the district.

Ruing an acute shortage of ‘bardana’ (gunny bags) in the mandi, protesters raised slogans against the state government, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and Minister of Food and Civil Supplies Bharat Bhushan Ashu. They said the government was making tall claims of arrangements for procurement of wheat in the mandis, but the ground reality painted a different picture.

Balwinder Singh Jethuke, block president, BKU (Dakonda), said: “There is an acute shortage of bardana in mandis. As a result, procurement is getting delayed. Our produce is lying in mandis vulnerable to inclement weather conditions. We will intensify our protest if the government does not make arrangements of providing bardana in mandis. We do not want to hassle the commuters but we are helpless.”

Farmers in many mandis have been claiming that wheat procurement is either delayed or not taking place at all. SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal today visited different mandis in the district to take stock of arrangements. After listening to farmers’ grievances, he said: “The state government has failed miserably in ensuring smooth procurement of wheat. For past over two weeks, farmers have been guarding their produce in mandis. There are heaps of wheat lying in mandis and due to tardy lifting and shortage of bardana, farmers and arhtiyas are suffering.”

Sukhbir asked the district administration and mandi board officials to ensure procurement at the earliest or else the SAD would start an agitation. Pratyush Kumar Sinha, Divisional Manager, FCI said, “We are procuring wheat irrespective of varieties in mandis of Bathinda and Mansa districts. But there are some mandis where arhtiyas have denied the FCI to make procurement so we can’t make purchase there.”

Deputy Commissioner B Srinivasan couldn’t be contacted on the issue.

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