The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today condemned the Congress government for turning a blind eye to the suffering of farmers, saying the entire procurement process had become paralyzed due to mismanagement and demanded immediate lifting of wheat from markets and restart of procurement which it said had been deliberated reduced.In a statement here, former minister and SAD Kisan Wing head Sikander Singh Malooka said the Congress government was treating farmers inhumanly.“First all Congress leaders trooped to Delhi to lobby for ministerial berths leaving farmers to their fate during the peak of the wheat procurement season. Now after the cabinet expansion the same Congressmen are indulging in grandiose welcome functions in their respective areas showing complete indifference to the plight of the farmers”.
Mr Maluka said presently there was a glut in nearly all mandis in the State starting from Khanna, Asia’s largest grain market, to Rajpura, Ludhiana, Sangrur, Barnala, Bathinda, Mansa, Ferozepur and other places. “With no space for new wheat arrivals, procurement agencies have deliberately slowed down procurement. Due to this thousands of farmers are waiting it out in mandis for the last ten to twelve days to sell their wheat. Besides being forced to sleep in the open, they have to guard their produce against unscrupulous elements and stray cattle”.Stating that the Congress government was responsible for this mess, the SAD Kisan Wing chief said the government created chaos on the eve of the procurement season by reducing wheat transportation rates drastically. “While ruining small transporters who were forced to sell their trucks, it also resulted in the shifting of trucks to neighbouring Haryana.
Now there are few trucks to lift the accumulated grain and that government’s efforts to give new contracts for wheat transportation have failed abysmally.Mr Maluka said this was not all. Most mandis in the Stare remained without gunny bags for the entire last week. “Similarly labour has not been arranged to assist in the lifting process and this issue is not likely to be redressed because Congressmen played favouritism and gave these contracts to their loyalists who are now unable to deliver”.The former minister said he had met the Bathinda deputy commissioner and procurement agency officers but it did not have any effect at the ground level. He said the situation in Bathinda was likely to worsen because the Food Corporation of India (FCI) did not take up six big grounds available for storing food grains due to contract issues and the State government had not facilitated alternative storage facilities.