Criticising the Centre’s decision to scrap import duty on wheat, leaders of the farming community have demanded immediate withdrawal of the government order.
Farmer leaders from Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Outer Delhi -- all members of farmers’ body Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) -- have demanded that the government should impose a 40 per cent cess on imports to prevent distress sale during harvest rather than scrapping it.
“The decision taken at a time when many farmers have more or less completed their sowing is cruel and anti-people and will lead to distress sale during the harvest,” said Ajmer Singh, state president, BKU Punjab, on Tuesday.
Wheat farmers maintain that there was actually no shortage of the cereal in the domestic market and the scarcity was artificially created by hoarders.
“Farmers have sold their wheat for Rs 1,200 per quintal to private buyers and it is now selling for much higher in the open market. The price has shot up due to hoarding which should be targeted by the government,” said Yudhvir Singh, national general secretary of BKU.
The government has estimated wheat production at 93.5 million tonnes for 2015-16, Lakhoval, pointed out, adding that even if the estimates were not fully met, production would be enough to meet the national consumption demand of 87 million tonnes. “The removal of import duty on wheat does not make much sense, apart from benefiting the Australian Wheat Board,” Lakhoval said.
The BKU has already written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking for imposition of 40 per cent import duty on wheat, but has not received any response. The government had completely scrapped import duty on wheat earlier this month after reducing it to 10 per cent from 25 per cent in September.