Bathinda: Irked over cotton being purchased at rates much lower than the MSP, farmers’ body BKU (Ekta Sidhupur) laid siege to Cotton Corporation of India’s (CCI) office here on Monday.
These activists — hailing from Bathinda, Mansa, Fazilka and Muktsar districts — have decided to continue the sit-in protest outside the office till the central agency starts cotton procurement on a large scale.
The CCI is not making bulk purchases claiming that the crop being brought to the markets had much higher moisture content than the permissible limit of 12%.
The farmers slammed the ongoing talks about regional comprehensive economic partnership (RCEP) as the proposed free trade agreement. They also said they would disrupt traffic across the state on November 2.
The anger of cotton growers is mounting by the day as their crop is being purchased at Rs 500 per quintal lower than the MSP. Though over 80,000 bales (1bale=170kg) have arrived in the state’s grain markets, CCI has purchased less than 3,000 bales so far since October 1.
Earlier in the week, the growers had burnt crop at Mansa in a form of protest, and the farmers had laid siege to purchase officials at Sangat grain market in Bathinda. On Friday too, they held a protest outside the Bathinda deputy commissioner’s office.
Bathinda unit general secretary Resham Singh said in the absence of CCI’s purchase, cotton growers are forced to sell the crop to private traders at much lower rates than the MSP, which is unacceptable. “We have decided to start indefinite protest outside the CCI office from Monday and will keep on protesting till bulk purchasing does not begin,” he said.
When contacted, CCI’s Bathinda branch manager Neeraj Kumar said, “Our officials are in the markets procuring cotton that has moisture content within the permissible range of 8 to 12%.”