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Farmers In Northern India Protest Against Food Security Bill

posted 2 Sept 2013, 05:55 by Mpelembe   [ updated 2 Sept 2013, 05:56 ]

Farmers union of India's main opposition, Bharatiya Janata Party protest in northern Chandigarhcity as they oppose the food security bill and demand adequate compensation for their produce.

CHANDIGARHINDIA (SEPTEMBER 02, 2013) (ANI) -  Farmers union of India's main opposition, Bharatiya Janata Party protested in northernChandigarh city on Monday (September 02) as they opposed the food security bill and demanded adequate compensation for their produce.

A large number of farmers from the states of Haryana and Punjab gathered together and protested and blocked Chandigarh-Delhi National highway -21.

India's food minister K.V, Thomas said on Monday (September 02) that his priority was to get the nearly $20 billion cheap food security plan offering food grains to the poor, passed in the upper house of the parliament.

President of the famers union of India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, O P Dhankar said that the government was turning a blind eye to the problems created for the farmers by the food security bill.

"We have come here to oppose the crippled food security bill. We want to say that by distributing our grains they want to gather votes, they do not want to give us our due. They should implement the report of the farmers commission and give us our due. We have come to say that all our inputs have been captured by multinationals. Our seeds, grains and pesticides are with them. The price of diesel and manure is increasing every day. If the imports are increasing then we should be given money. Implement the report of the farmers commission and give us atleast 2100 rupees, ($31.74) for the grains. We have come to demand this," said Dhankar.

The lower house had approved the plan last week on Monday (August 26) to provide cheap grains to the poor, a key part of the ruling Congress party's strategy ahead of the upcoming 2014 general elections in the country.

Protesters marched with party flags and raised anti government slogans slamming them for passing the bill as a vote earning tactic ahead of the upcoming 2014 elections.

Under the plan, the government will sell subsidized wheat and rice to 67 percent of its population of 1.2 billion.

India is home to a quarter of the world's hungry poor, according to United Nations data, despite being one of the biggest food producers and experiencing years of rapid economic growth.

The lower house had passed the bill only after nearly nine hours of debate and the inclusion of amendments that government sources could lead to an additional requirement of about 3 million tonnes of grain.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said last year that the child malnutrition in India, where almost 50 percent of children are underweight, was a "national shame". Despite that, some critics have dubbed the new plan a waste of public money at a time when growth has been steadily slowing.

The expanded subsidy is a pet project of Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, who led the party to victory in the last two elections on the back of populist programmes such as a rural jobs plan and a $12.5 billion farmer loan waiver passed just before the 2009 general election.