New Delhi: The Congress today hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over what it claimed his “blatant refusal” to provide adequate compensation to farmers for damaged crops and alleged that it reaffirms the inherently ingrained “anti-farmer prejudice” of the government.
“This multi-pronged attack on the bread, butter and livelihood of India's farmer will not only lead to a drop in agricultural productivity for the first time after 10 years of Congress rule but has reaffirmed the universal slogan echoing in India's farm sector—‘Kisan Virodhi - Narendra Modi',” AICC communication department in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala said in a statement here.
He said that untimely rains, hailstorms and high velocity winds have destroyed over 170 lakh hectares of Rabi crops in 14 states causing damage of over Rs 40,000 crore.
“Modi government's deplorable decision, as disclosed by Niti Aayog Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya, expressing inability of the finance ministry to adequately compensate the farmers for damaged crops is a severe body blow to the farming community already reeling under severe distress.
“Coming as it does on the heels of the draconian Land Acquisition Ordinance yesterday, it reaffirms the inherently ingrained anti-farmer prejudice of Modi government,” Surjewala said.
He said that equally shocking is the statement of Union Minister for Agriculture Radha Mohan Singh absolving the central government of responsibility to pay compensation by asking the states to first pay compensation to farmers from State Disaster Response Funds (SDRF) and then use ‘Contingency Funds' at the state level.
“This is a classic case of ‘putting the cart before the bullock' and expression of a clear intent to not pay any compensation to farmers. Assertion of Vice-Chairman of Niti Aayog refusing to pay adequate compensation to farmers reaffirms the same.
Surjewala alleged that to add insult to the injury, an inter-ministerial group headed by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, the Union Agriculture Minister and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has summarily rejected the demand of farming community and landless labourers, duly recommended by food ministry, to enhance wheat allocation to the affected families under the Public Distribution System in areas, where crops have seen extensive damage on account of vagaries of weather.
“The final body blow on the farming community has come in shape of the latest circular dated February 24 issued by ministry of food and public distribution specifying that wheat crops containing moisture in excess of 12 to 14 per cent has to be rejected and not purchased by procurement agencies,” he said.
The Congress spokesperson said that according to the circular, even ‘slightly damaged grains' beyond 4 per cent and ‘shriveled and broken grains' beyond 6 per cent have to be rejected and not procured by Government agencies.
“While issuing this unilateral diktat, Modi Government lost sight of the fact that pursuant to the current rains, almost the entire crops, including the undamaged one, will have moisture of 20 per cent to 30 per cent on the average.
“This order of Modi government will ensure that no procurement of wheat and other Rabi crops takes place by the procurement agencies leaving the farmers at the mercy of market forces once again,” he said.