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NEW DELHI: Amid farmers’ protests against new laws, the Centre on Wednesday asserted that buying of kharif crops at Minimum Support Price is continuing and that Rs 1.40 lakh crore will be spend for procuring 738 lakh tonnes of paddy at MSP from more than 156 lakh farmers.

Around Rs 35,000 crore will be shelled out for buying 125 lakh bales of cotton at MSP this year. Even pulses and oilseeds are being procured at the respective MSPs, it said.

Seeking to send out a clear message to the protesting farmers that the Centre has no intention of scrapping procurement at MSP, senior officials held a press conference on Wednesday on steps being taken for procurement of the kharif crops.

The conference was jointly addressed by agriculture secretary Sanjay Agrawal, food secretary Sudhanshu Pandey, textile secretary Ravi Capoor and Food Corporation of India (FCI) chairman and managing director D V Prasad.

“MSP procurement was done in the past, will be done in the present and future as well. Farmers’ need not worry,” the agriculture secretary said.

There has been a record increase in coverage of the kharif crops to 401 lakh hectares this year and a bumper foodgrains production is also expected. “Farmers have worked hard during this pandemic period. The government is committed to procure their crops at MSP rates,” he said.

He also said the government fixes MSP for 25 notified crops and out of them, 14 crops are grown in the kharif season.

Generally, procurement of kharif crops begins from October 1.

Food secretary Sudhanshu Pandey said the government cannot stop procurement as it is integral for ensuring food security under the National Food Security Act. “What we procure directly from farmers is being distributed at subsidised rates to the poor via ration shops,” he noted.

Further, he said that all mechanisms have been put in place for MSP-buying of kharif paddy and other crops, adding that in fact, kharif paddy buying was advanced this year due to early arrival of the crop.

“FCI and state agencies are all set to procure a record quantity of 738 lakh tonnes of paddy (497 lakh tonnes in terms of rice) during the ongoing kharif crop (season) as against 627 lakh tonnes of paddy in the year-ago (period),” he said.

In the last 11 days alone, there has been a 23 per cent increase in paddy procurement at 15.26 lakh tonnes as against 12.38 lakh tonnes in the year-ago period, he said.

“The MSP outflow is estimated to be higher at Rs 1,40,078 crore in the 2020-21 kharif as against Rs 1,15,172 crore in the year-ago. Paddy will be procured from 156.78 lakh farmers this time,” Pandey noted.

To ensure smooth procurement, FCI chief said the government has increased purchase centres from 30,549 to 39,130 in the 2020-21 kharif marketing season.

Even during the pandemic, the government procured paddy and wheat grown during the rabi season from 64.64 lakh farmers, he said.

That apart, MSP procurement has increased both in volumes and value terms in the last few years.

With regard to cotton, textile secretary said cotton procurement has commenced from October 1 and about 2,311 bales have been purchased from Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan so far.

“We are expecting higher cotton production this year. Even procurement target has been kept higher at 125 lakh bales. MSP outflow is estimated to be Rs 35,000 crore,” he said.

Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) is undertaking procurement at 430 centres spread across 135 districts in 12 states. The procurement has been kept open-ended and farmers can sell their produce to CCI, he said.

Cotton production is estimated to increase to 360 lakh bales in 2020-21 from 357 lakh bales in 2019-20 marketing year (October-September), he added.

Farmers in several states are protesting against the new farm laws, which they feel will lead to procurement in the hands of corporates and end MSP regime.

The Times of India is an Indian English-language daily newspaper owned by The Times Group. It is the third-largest newspaper in India by circulation and largest selling English-language daily in the world. according to Audit Bureau of Circulations.

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INDIA

Covid: Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka too say they’ll give free vaccine doses

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NEW DELHI: A Covid vaccine might still be some time away, but it’s already raining promises of free vaccination across states. Hours after BJP’s election manifesto for Bihar offered free coronavirus vaccination to all if the NDA retained office, at least two states — Tamil Nadu and Karnataka — vowed to vaccinate every citizen for free while a third — Madhya Pradesh — reserved its commitment for the poor.

Tamil Nadu CM Edappadi K Palaniswami was first off the blocks, promising free vaccination for all as and when a mass-produced vaccine was made available.

DMK president M K Stalin promptly accused the CM of “trying to show off”, saying it was the responsibility of any government to safeguard people during a pandemic by making available critical vaccines free of cost.

“EPS did not have the heart to offer a dole of Rs 5,000 to the common people who lost their livelihood (during the lockdown)” he said. With bypolls to 28 MP seats just 11 days away, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan jumped onto the bandwagon late on Thursday and announced it would be free for the poor.

“BJP has said a very good thing in Bihar. And I am saying the same thing here. Let the corona vaccine come, every poor person in MP will be administered the vaccine for free,” he said at a poll rally in Gwalior. Around 9.30pm, he took to Twitter to reiterate the promise, inviting criticism from Congress.

In Karnataka, the vaccine would be free for everyone if and when commercially available, health commissioner Pankaj Kumar Pandey said. State health and family welfare minister K Sudhakar said the state was working with experts on a plan of action for distribution of the vaccine, including determining which vulnerable groups must be covered first.

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INDIA

Terrorism enemy of humanity: LG

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SRINAGAR: LG Manoj Sinha on Thursday said October 22 will always remain a black day during his inaugural address of the national symposium and exhibition on “Memories of 22 October, 1947” in the city.

Sinha said we must make both the elderly and the younger generation aware that Pakistan not only shed the blood of the people of Kashmir, on this fateful epoch of history, it tried to divide us, which we have foiled with our unity and goodwill.

The LG said the two-day symposium and exhibition is a medium to expose the atrocities inflicted by the Pakistani government and its army upon innocent women, children, and men of Jammu & Kashmir on October 22, 1947.

“Even after 73 years, the pain and terrors of Operation Gulmarg of Pakistan are fresh in our memories,” Sinha said.

The two-day event on 22nd and 23rd October is being organized by the National Museum Institute of History of Art, Conservation and Museology at SKICC, Srinagar.

A publication, Memories of 22 October 1947, was also launched on the occasion.

Speaking on the representations received from more than 100 prominent people across J&K regarding protection and restoration of places with heritage significance like Mubarak Mandi, Jammu, and Shergarhi, Srinagar, the LG reiterated the government’s commitment towards conservation and protection of the rich culture and heritage of J&K.

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INDIA

After BJP’s Bihar poll promise, MP CM Shivraj says will give free vaccine to poor

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BHOPAL: Taking a cue from BJP in Bihar who announced on Thursday to provide free Covid vaccine to the poor in the state, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said that poor families in the state will get free Covid-19 vaccine.

“BJP has said a very good thing in Bihar. And I am also saying the same thing here. Let the Corona vaccine come, every poor in Madhya Pradesh will be administered free vaccine,” chief minsiter Chouhan announced during a poll rally in Gwalior on Thursday evening.

He further said, “I want to save from Corona, then poor will be saved first. we will also try to make arrangements for the rest as well. The BJP government is for the development”.

However, after chief minister’s announcement in Gwalior, an official tweet by Chouhan stated that Corona vaccine will be administered to all citizens in Madhya Pradesh. But, the government later clarified that CM had made the announcement for only poor.

“We have controlled the Corona infection to an extent but, vaccine is the only cure for it and vaccine should be given to the public,” read the tweet by CM.

The Congress though raised objections to the chief minister’s remarks and said that Chouhan’s statement was confusing. “Earlier the chief minister said that Corona vaccine would be provided only to poor families. In his tweeted posted later, he said Covid-19 vaccine will be given to all citizens. This is confusing,” said Congress state media coordinator, Narendra Saluja.

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