Delhi's Agriculture Minister Gopal Rai Friday visited the Narela mandi in north Delhi and alleged that the Food Corporation of India (FCI) was harassing farmers by not procuring their wheat crop on Minimum Support Price.
Speaking to the media after the visit, Mr Rai said no counter has been set up at the mandi and no procurement is happening, as claimed by the FCI.
"For the last few days, farmers were raising the issue that the FCI has not started procurement of crops on MSP in Narela mandi. The FCI claimed that the procurement was started from April 1. After asking for a report from the mandi yesterday, we got to know that there was no counter here," Mr Rai said.
He alleged that FCI officials did not come for a meeting and those who "came were not ready to speak up".
"If there is a counter in the mandi, then show us. If there was no counter then there is no need to tell lies. One official said that a counter was put up in the godown. We asked if the procurement is on, he said ''no''. Every year, the procurement process is conducted in the mandi. It is unfortunate that the farmers were being harassed this time," the minister said.
His allegations came amid ongoing protests by farmers against three agri-marketing laws, cleared by the Centre last year, which the agitators claim are against farmers' interest. They have been demanding the Centre withdraw these laws and bring fresh legislations, giving a legal backing to the MSP regime.
On April 7, Rai had demanded the Centre to direct the FCI to set up counters in Narela and Najafgarh markets and start procuring wheat from farmers at minimum support price.
Mr Rai said his department had written two letters, requesting the FCI to set up counters in Narela and Najafgarh grain markets
"I request the Centre that the farmers should not be harassed. There should be a counter in the mandi where government officials will sit for verification so that the farmers will not have to run here and there and they get the MSP. On Monday, I will call the senior officials of FCI for a meeting," he said.
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