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After farmers threaten protest, Punjab withdraws order declaring private silos as purchase centres

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NewsDrum Desk
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Chandigarh, Apr 2 (PTI) Under fire from various farmer bodies, the Punjab government on Tuesday withdrew its order declaring private silos as wheat procurement centres in the state.

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Hours before the government's withdrawal, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non Political) and Kisan Mazdoor Morcha had said they will hold demonstrations on Sunday against allowing private silos to be used as wheat procurement centres in Punjab.

Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has directed the cancellation of the order pertaining to declaring silos as sub yards, Punjab Mandi Board chairman Harchand Singh Barsat said, adding that the decision has been taken in view of farmers' demands.

Barsat added the silos will be used for storage purposes only. Responding to farmer unions' claim that the silos will have made the grain markets redundant, Barsat clarified that no market committees will be dissolved.

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The Punjab Mandi Board, in its order on March 15, had declared 11 silos in nine districts, being managed by private companies, as purchase, sale and storage centres in view of the Rabi marketing season that started on April 1.

A steel silo, considered to be a scientific way of storage of food grains, ensures better preservation than conventional storage warehouses. A silo also can also act as a purchase centre where farmers can bring their crops for sale.

Barsat said every year new procurement centres are added for the convenience of farmers. Punjab has a total of 1,907 procurement centres, 47 of which have been added this year, he said.

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Earlier in the day, SKM (Non Political) and KMM said they will burn effigies of both the central and Punjab government over the issue on April 7, claiming corporate silos will make the grain markets redundant.

Apart from SKM (Non Political) and KMM, Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), which spearheaded the 2020-21 farmers' agitation against the now-repealed farm laws, had also announced a demonstration over the issue on April 9.

SKM (Non Political) and KMM are spearheading the 'Delhi Chalo' march by farmers to press the government to accept their demands which includes a legal guarantee of Minimum Support Price (MSP) for crops.

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The protesting farmers who have been staying put at the Shambhu and Khanauri border points between Punjab and Haryana after their march was stopped by security forces on February 13, have also demanded the release of five farmers arrested by the Haryana Police.

Addressing mediapersons here on Tuesday, SKM (Non Political) leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal condemned the decision to declare corporate silos in nine districts as procurement centres for wheat storage in Punjab and said the Punjab government had "acted at the behest of the Centre".

KMM leader Sarwan Singh Pandher accused the AAP government of trying to please corporations by allowing the sale, purchase and storage of wheat at private silos.

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Pandher said he had "no doubt" that it was a central government policy but added that the state government could have stopped its implementation.

He urged farmers to not bring their crops to these silos for sale.

Both the leaders also demanded the release of five farmers, including Ravinder Singh Ravi, Amarjit Singh -- both from Punjab -- who were arrested during the ongoing protest for a guarantee on MSP.

Pander added that if their demands to rollback the decision on corporate silos and the release of the five farmers were not accepted by April 7, then they will hold a 'rail roko' agitation on April 9. PTI CHS VSD SKY SKY

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