Bhubaneswar, Dec 21 (UiTV/IANS) – A delegation of Odisha BJP MPs led by Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan met Union Food and Public Distribution Minister Piyush Goyal and sought his intervention to deal with the alleged irregularities in paddy procurement in the state.
The BJP MPs have met Goyal in New Delhi, a day after BJD MPs met the same Union Minister, demanding release of pending food subsidy dues of Rs 14,292 crore to the Odisha government.
In a memorandum to Goyal, the BJP leaders accused the Odisha government of scuttling paddy procurement and causing distress to farmers.
They said the Centre’s attention was earlier drawn to corrupt practices prevalent in regulated markets committees, primary agriculture credit societies and paddy procurement centres in Odisha. It was also corroborated in the report of the central team deputed to probe these issues.
Unfortunately, the government of Odisha ignored the findings of the report as the same issues are yet again plaguing the paddy procurement process in Odisha, the MPs added.
While the Kharif marketing season started from October to facilitate smooth paddy procurement, ‘mandis’ (agricultural markets) have not opened so far except for a few districts.
Stating mandis in most coastal districts have not been opened yet, the BJP parliamentarians said the Odisha government is shifting the blame to district level paddy procurement committees in the name of decentralisation.
Ironically, these are indirectly controlled by representatives and officials of the Odisha government, the MPs added.
Alleging that farmers are not getting minimum support price of Rs 1,940 per quintal due to cut in weight over FAQ, the MPs said mandis are not maintaining separate register and accounts, and surplus paddy is adjusted as FAQ and value is being misappropriated by those involved in the procurement system.
“A nexus of millers and officials of the Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare department has made the paddy procurement automation system a mockery by allowing unscrupulous traders and landless farmers to snatch away the benefits from genuine registered farmers,” the MPs said.
On the other hand, a delegation of BJD MPs on Tuesday met Union Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda in New Delhi and demanded inclusion of 160 communities of Odisha in Scheduled Tribes (ST) list.
There are several communities, who have been recommended by the Odisha government for inclusion in the ST list of the state. But, they have not been included in the ST list yet after many decades and these proposals are pending before the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, the BJD MPs said.
Kamal Nath urges PM, Soren to rethink move to develop Jain pilgrimage site for tourism
Congress’ Madhya Pradesh unit chief Kamal Nath on Tuesday wrote to Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren urging him to reconsider the Centre’s proposal of developing ‘Tirthkar Sammed Shikhar’, a Jain pilgrimage site, as a tourist destination.
In his letter to Soren, he sought to remind him that the holy place is centre of faith of the people of the Jain community as at least 20 out of 24 Tirthankaras had attained salvation there and therefore, the place should be protected from any step that can dent its purity.
Nath noted that people of Jain community in Madhya Pradesh have unanimously opposed the Centre’s decison and have demanded the proposal be cancelled. “I would urge you to protect the purity of this holy place and reconsider the proposal to develop it on the lines of a tourist place. The decision would harm the purity the this holy place,” he wrote.
Nath has also written to the Prime Minister, opposing the proposal, stressing that this decision would be against the faith of Jain community.
“Through this letter, I would like to seek your attention on an important issue. Centre has declared the holy place – ‘Tirthkar Sammed Shikhar’, a holy place, which is centre of faith of the Jain community, a tourist place. I would appeal you to reconsider on this decision to protect the purity of the place. Your this step will be a milestone to protect the religious harmony of the country,” Nath urged in his letter sent on December 17.
The state Congress has extended its support to the people of the Jain community and organisations raising voice against the Centre’s decision and have been staging protest in several parts of the country, including Madhya Pradesh where a large population of the community live, especially in Bundelkhand region.
Rajya Sabha MP and former Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh on Monday said that ‘Tirthkar Sammed Shikhar’ is a holy pilgrimage spot and it should be developed on that way only, and not on the lines of a tourist place. “I would oppose the decision of developing holy pilgrimage as a tourist place. I believe that both Centre and the state governments will understand the difference between tourism and pilgrimage,” he said.