Did Delhi queer Bhavantar pitch?

By Times Of India on 25 Mar 2018
BHOPAL: When chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced to withdraw three rabi crops from Bhawantar Bhugtan Yojana (BBY) — one of the flagship schemes — the decision took many by surprise. Some went to the extent of saying the government is not delivering on its promise.
Highly placed sources said the CM was banking on the Centre thinking the latter was set to bring BBY for states as one of the three schemes to procure farmers’ produce. The other two being Market Assurance Scheme (MAS) and a subsidy scheme for corporate houses (they would procure directly from farmers and government would provide subsidy to corporates).

“We were sure of these schemes for long. Even two NITI Aayog meetings over three schemes were held on March 1 and 9, but it could not happen at the last moment,” highly-placed government sources said.

The BBY was launched in kharif 2017 as a pilot project and the government wanted to replicate it as a full-fledged scheme in rabi this year, which is why the CM had announced it in a major farmers’ rally in Bhopal at Jamboree maidan in Bhopal on February 12 this year, they said.

It was beyond the means of the state to bear Centre’s share of around Rs 1,000 crore to Rs 1,500 crore, sources said.

And the last, but an equally significant reason, sources explained, was disenchantment of farmers with Bhawantar at many places . “A large number of farmers were not able to sell their produce under BBY under the criteria of FAQ (fair average quality) of grains. Lower price for the produce if grains were inferior than FAQ triggered resentment,” sources said.

The government was panicky as three rabi crops — lentil (masoor), gram (chana ) and mustard (sarson) – arrived in markets and the Centre was not issuing notification, the chief minister visited Delhi on March 23 only to be told that the three schemes would not be rolled out, sources claimed.

After a delayed cabinet meeting the same day late in evening, the CM announced his decision in a hurriedly-convened press conference.

But he insisted garlic and onion would continue to be in BBY. Besides, the government has already declared to procure poppy husk from farmers. It would require about Rs 40 to Rs 50 crore and the husk would be burnt to destroy it.

“By adding garlic in BBY and announcement of poppy husk, the government would be targeting farmers especially the powerful Patidars of Mandsaur, Neemuch, Ratlam, Ujjain and other parts of western MP,” sources said.

Farmers associations criticised the government for withdrawing the BBY. Shivkumar Sharma alias Kakkaji of Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangh, said, “This is 16th amendment in BBY by the government. It should stop befooling farmers. It should also compensate farmers for losses incurred in BBY in last kharif season.”

Anil Yadav of Bhartiya Kisan Sangh, said, “We always demanded to withdraw the scheme, which was against the interest of the farmers.”

Bhopal: When chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced withdrawal of three Rabi crops from Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana on Friday evening, it took many by surprise.

Highly placed sources said the CM was banking on the Centre for funds, hoping Delhi would roll out Bhavantar as one of the three nationwide schemes to procure farm produce. The other two being Market Assurance Scheme (MAS) and a subsidy scheme for corporate houses (they would procure directly from farmers and government would provide subsidy to corporates).

“We were sure of these schemes for a long time. Two NITI Aayog meetings were held for these schemes on March 1 and 9, but things didn’t materialise at the last moment,” a source said.

Bhavantar was launched in kharif 2017 as a pilot project. The government aimed to turn it into a full-fledged scheme in rabi this year, which is why the CM had announced it at a major farmers’ rally in Bhopal at Jamboree maidan on February 12 this year, they said.

However, financially it was beyond the means of the state to bear the Centre’s share of around Rs 1,000-1,500 crore, sources said. And the last, but equally significant reason, was reported disenchantment among a section of farmers with Bhavantar, sources said.

“A large number of farmers were not able to sell their produce under Bhavantar under the criteria of FAQ (fair average quality) of grains. Lower price for the produce if grains were inferior than FAQ triggered resentment,” sources said.

The government’s worry rose as three rabi crops — lentil (masoor), gram (chana ) and mustard (sarson) — arrived in markets and the Centre hadn’t issued the notification that MP was hoping for.

The chief minister visited Delhi on March 23 only to be told that the three schemes would not be rolled out, an official said. After a delayed cabinet meeting the same day late in evening, the CM announced at a hurriedly-convened press conference that masoor, chana and sarson will be under MSP.

But garlic and onion would continue to be in Bhavantar, he assured. Besides, the government has already declared to procure poppy husk from farmers and destroy it. It will cost the state Rs 40-50 crore.

“By adding garlic in Bhavantar and the poopy husk sop, the government is wooing the powerful Patidars of Mandsaur, Neemuch, Ratlam, Ujjain and other parts of western MP,” sources said.

Farmer associations criticised the government for withdrawing the three crops from Bhavantar. Shivkumar Sharma aka Kakkaji of Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangh, said, “This is the 16th amendment in Bhavantar. The government should stop fooling farmers. It should also compensate farmers for losses incurred in Bhavantar in last kharif.” Anil Yadav of Bhartiya Kisan Sangh, said, “We always demanded to withdraw the scheme, which was against the interest of the farmers.”