Paddy procurement Bedlam in Odisha House for second day

Bhubaneswar: Odisha Assembly witnessed ruckus for the second consecutive day with the opposition BJP and Congress members alleging non-procurement of paddy in several ‘mandis’ (markets) because of a nexus between the BJD government and rice mill owners.

The House was adjourned twice due to the bedlam but normalcy returned after an all-party meeting. The House had witnessed 16 adjournments over the procurement issue on Monday.

As soon as the House assembled for the question hour on Tuesday, opposition members displayed anti-government placards, dubbed the BJD administration “anti-farmer” and trooped into the well, forcing Speaker S N Patro to adjourn the house twice.

The Congress and BJP members demanded a discussion on non-procurement of paddy in several ‘mandis’ in the state. They claimed that hundreds of quintals of paddy the farmers had brought to the ‘mandis’ were not procured due to a nexus between the government and rice mill owners.

The speaker later convened an all-party meeting to resolve the impasse where opposition members agreed to call off the agitation as budget discussions are getting affected.

“Our demand that the government purchase all the paddy from farmers remains intact. However, we will cooperate in the budget discussion,” Leader of Opposition Pradipta Kumar Naik of the BJP said.

Congress Legislature Party leader Narasingha Mishra said there is no end to the plight of farmers. Their condition has been miserable following unseasonal rains on Monday and Tuesday, he said.

Mishra said his party members will cooperate in the budget discussion.

S S Saluja of the Congress criticised the state government for introducing e-token system for paddy procurement, saying most of the farmers are mostly uneducated and they do not understand how to register themselves in e-platform and get token.

“We demand that the government procure all the paddy of farmers,” he said.

BJP member J N Mishra claimed that the government has stopped some mandis in Sambalpur and Bargarh districts causing hardship for the farmers.

The government must accept all the paddy from farmers as the grain is getting affected in rain, he said.

Speaker Patro said Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Minister R P Swain has started discussions with MLAs from different districts. Swain will sort out the problems of farmers after consulting with MLAs, the speaker said.

Opposition members said since the procurement will continue till March, they will keep a watch on the process. “If required, we will again agitate in the Assembly,” said Congress member Taraprasad Bahinipati.

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