Refuting opposition charge that abolition of APMC Act has worked against farmers of Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar Tuesday said in fact the agri reforms have benefitted the cultivators which could be understood from the fact that the state has made highest ever 35.59 lakh metric tonnes (MT) of paddy procurement in the current season.
Replying to a debate on the motion of thanks on the Governor’s address to the joint session of the state legislature on Friday, the chief minister mentioned the pioneering efforts made by the state to fight coronavirus and other initiatives to improve health, power, road etc, drawing a comparison with the scenario 15 years back.
He said the state government made elaborate arrangements for paddy purchase and even extended the duration of the procurement from the farmers and asserted that no farmer is left from whom paddy has to be procured now.
Bihar had done away with the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act way back in 2006 and also ended the mandi system.
Mr Kumar has supported the centre’s three new farm laws having similar contents.
Dismissing the opposition charge that the over one-and-a half-decade back agriculture reforms in Bihar have worked against the farmers who have been forced to sell their grain at a much lower price than the MSP, Mr Kumar reeled out figures to count the virtues of the farm legislations for the state.
Mr Kumar said categorically that the government will make no more paddy procurement in the current season as traders/ middlemen who had bought the grain from the cultivators before the procurement process were trying to sell it in the name of farmers and this would not be allowed at any cost.
“Initially, farmers did not want to sell their paddy at procurement centres. The government sent teams in villages and motivated them to do so after which five lakh farmers sold their paddy.”
“If anyone, now, is seeking extension of date for paddy procurement, then they are certainly not farmers rather they are traders or middlemen who want to sell paddy which they purchased from farmers at a cheaper rate and now want to make money. We will not allow such things to happen,” Mr Kumar said.
Paddy procurement ended on February 21 in the state.
The state government had extended the deadline for the paddy procurement which was to be over by January 31.
Paddy procurement was 21.59 lakh MT in 2011-12, he said while pointing out that only 12,000 MT paddy was procured in 2000-01 and 72,000 MT in 2004-05 during RJD regime which had kept itself away from the paddy procurement process.
It was his government which strengthened the procurement system in the state and carried it through State Food Corporation, PACS and Vyapar Mandal, Mr Kumar added.
In his 74-minute long reply, Mr Kumar talked about his government’s achievements in various fields be it containing COVID-19, law and order, health care facilities, education, power availability, increasing per capita income, increasing production and productivity, development of infrastructure including roads, bridges etc.
Stating that there has been improvement on the COVID-19 front as the number of cases has eased off across the country and in the state too, he said the state government is cautious and alert and has asked Principal Secretary, Health, to increase testing in order to contain the numbers, particularly in the backdrop of sudden rise in cases in some states.
Dwelling on the issue of law and order, he said Bihar ranked 25th in crime cases in the country as per the NCRB, 2019 data.
Mr Kumar said that Bihar registered 10.5 per cent growth at constant prices in 2019-20. Not only this, Bihars budgets size has increased to Rs 2.18 lakh crore in 2021-22 from Rs 23,885 crore in 2004-05.
Comparing the figures with that of the RJDs regime, he said that per capita income was Rs 7914 at constant price in 2004-05 which has increased to Rs 50,735 in 2019-20.
Reminding about the old days, Mr Kumar said that state could draw barely 700 MW when he took reins in the state in November 2005, but now the power supply scenario has changed with the state drawing 5932 MW currently.
Besides, the government has decided to install pre-paid smart meters to get rid of the problem of meter reading or problems relating to anomalies in energy bills, he said adding that he raised the issue of one nation one rate of electricity during recently held meeting of the Niti Aayog.
Mr Kumar said that his government implemented agriculture roadmap which has helped the state increase both production and productivity of various produce.
The productivity of paddy was 16.4 quintal per hectare in 2005-06 which rose to 33.50 quintal now, he said and added that wheats productivity has also increased to 25.95 quintals from 13.79 quintals per hecares.
Similarly, paddy production has increased to 108.76 lakh MT at present from 52.18 lakh MT in 2005-06, he said and added that wheat production has increased to 55.79 lakh MT (at present) from 27.63 lakh MT in 2005-06.
Mr Kumar said that his government has taken decision to provide water to every farm land under “Saat Nischay (seven resolves) part-2 scheme which has already been initiated.
Not satisfied with the government’s reply, Leader of Opposition Tejashwi Prasad Yadav and other opposition parties except AIMIM staged a walk out at the fag end of the reply.
Later, AIMIM too walked out of the House.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)