Bhopal: Rains caused by cyclonic storm Nisarga in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday led to damage of wheat harvest kept in the open at government procurement centres, causing distress to farmers. The incident came to light even as the Shivraj government claimed that it had been able to store 94% of the wheat that was purchased by the state government.
Opposition Congress alleged that lakhs of metric tonnes of wheat was destroyed in untimely rains and said it would release videos of the incident as proof.
Responding to the accusations, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said on Friday that 94% wheat was already shifted to storage facilities and added that the MP government has, so far, procured 1.26 crore metric tonnes of wheat. Chouhan asked farmers not to worry and assured them that their harvest would be purchased by the state government. He added that his government has already started their purchase and will meet the target of 100 metric lakh tonnes of wheat.
He further accused the Kamal Nath government of not making proper arrangements of crop procurement when it was in power.
The MP government said that the state witnessed a record wheat procurement this season and added that Rs 16,000 crore has already been transferred to farmers’ accounts.
The Opposition, however, continued to mount an attack on the government.
"The MP government has been persistently erring and making egotistic claims on wheat procurement," Congress MLA Kunal Chaudhary told News18 on Friday. He added that the party would release videos of the wheat being destroyed in the rains.
"They are saying we have paid the farmers but the fact is wheat bought at procurement centres and co-operative societies is lying out in the open and being destroyed by the rains. This also belies payment claims as farmers are handed payment only after the crop is shifted to warehouses," alleged Chaudhary.
Government procurement centres are established in farmlands. Photographs of wheat lying in the open amid rains surfaced from across the state on Thursday.
As rains lashed the state, thousands of farmers lined up at the procurement centres and were seen struggling to protect their harvest which they brought on tractors.
"I had said 30-33 lakh metric tonnes of wheat was lying in open and after rains, it’s confirmed that losses worth Rs 7,000 crore have been incurred by the MP government," agriculture expert Kedar Shankar Sirohi said on Friday.
Chana (gram) and Moong crops were also damaged in the rains, he pointed out.
Despite the early warning of rains, the state government did not make arrangements to transport procured wheat to the storage centres, Sirohi said, adding that so far, only 15 lakh farmers have sold their produce and 4.36 lakh remain in the list, awaiting their turn.