Badal demands Rs 400 per quintal as bonus on wheat

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Chandigarh, Apr 7 (UNI) Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today demanded a bonus of Rs 400 per quintal on wheat procured by the Government agencies.

He also strongly pleaded for putting in place a permanent mechanism for deciding lucrative prices of food grains and other agriculture products.

He made these demands during a meeting with Union Agriculture Minuster Sharad Pawar.

Mr Badal suggested that either the MSP should be linked with Consumer Price Index or calculated on the basis of formula recommended by the noted farm economist Dr M S Swaminathan, under which the MSP should be equal to the cost of production plus 50 per cent.

He refuted the claim that farmers were being given more lucrative MSPs for their produce than they were paid during the NDA regime at the Centre. "Farmers always got MSP higher than the prevailing international prices of wheat and paddy during the NDA period while the price offer to them now was considerably lower than the union government was paying for importing wheat", he said at the meeting.

Mr Badal also urged Mr Pawar to announce the demanded bonus immediately to encourage the farmers to bring their wheat produce to the mandis so that the states could meet the desired target of procurement fixed by the Centre. The Chief Minister also impressed upon Mr Pawar to direct the FCI to relax the prescribed specifications of wheat for procurement due to untimely rains.

Among the other major issues raised by Mr Badal was the sheet-lining of the Rajasthan and Sirhind canals at a cost of Rs 400 crore in order to combat the menace of water-logging in the fertile cotton belt of the state. A three lakh acre area in 325 villages had been water logged in the Malwa belt.

The Chief Minister also asked Mr Pawar to include PUSA 1121 paddy variety in the category of Basmati, so as to ensure remunerative prices for this variety.

The Chief Minister also rued the decision of Union Government for giving meager relief for crop damaged by natural calamities.He said that the concept of relief should be replaced by total compensation.

He said that the paltry sum of Rs 1600 as relief paid by the Centre was not commensurate with the magnitude of losses suffered by the farmers.He requested the Union Government to include frost in the list of natural calamities to enable the farmers to get compensation. He said that recently the Punjabi farmers had suffered huge losses due to damage caused by frost to vegetables and fruits.

Mr Badal also urged Mr Pawar to formulate clear cut import policies for the purchase of fertilizers, especially DAP, so that no shortage is faced during the wheat and paddy sowing seasons.

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