BHAWANIPATNA / JEYPORE / SONEPUR: Alleging serious irregularities in the supply of paddy rabi to mandis, the Bharatiya Janata Party took to the streets of Kalahandi, Sonepur and Koraput districts on July 1, 2021. Saffron party leaders organized demonstrations and roadblocks demanding the purchase of unsold paddy. farmers under the MSP set by the central government.
Farmers in Kalahandi alleged that the 12-day window given in tokens to sell paddy was not sufficient. The delay of the Indravati project to stop the release of water into the canal hampered the harvest. This problem was further compounded by the fact that the millers took their time transporting the paddy to the mandis. While some tokens that expired between June 15 and June 19 were revalidated with the intervention of the district administration, the remaining 1094 tokens were closed in the eyes of the company.
Kalahandi district had received a target of procuring 24.20 quintals of a lakh of paddy but closed the process at 23.08 quintals of a lakh. Adding to the woes, the tokens of 1,094 farmers have lapsed and were not renewed by the supplying civil society. Dasigaon Company Secretary Bishnu Sahu was suspended by management under the direction of the Deputy Registrar of Cooperative Societies (ARCS) on June 16 for serious mismanagement leading to token lapses.
Angry at such mismanagement, activists staged a blockade on the Hati River Bridge in Junagarh on the NH-26, demanding the revalidation of expired tokens and the purchase of unsold paddy stocks from farmers.
BJP District Chairman Devendra Mohanty said farmers were paying the price for the state government’s flawed policies.
Koraput also saw BJP militants block the NH-26 for two hours near Ambaguda under the Jeypore Block, demanding immediate resolution of the mandi issues. Shouting slogans against the state government for flawed supply plans, agitators called on the ruling party for turning a deaf ear to the token failure issue and shutting down mandis in the district as tons of paddy were unsold.
District Civilian Supplies Officer PK Panda rushed to the scene and assured protesters to seize the government. Among others, former MP and BJP leader Jayaram Pangi and BJP unit chairman of Sumant Pradhan district participated in the unrest. Sonepur farmers locked down the Rampur tehsil office and staged a dharna in front of the Dunguripali block office, to protest irregularities alleging millers’ apathy in buying paddy.