On Wednesday, the Rajasthan High Court sought the stand of the state government on a plea challenging its decision to exclude two important crops of the state from the ambit of procurement on the minimum support price mechanism.
A Jodhpur bench compising of the High Court issued notices to the Centre and state governments at a time when the farmers have been camping at Delhi borders in protest against the three central farm laws that, they fear, are aimed at eliminating the MSP mechanism.
A division bench of Justice Sangeet Lodha and Justice Rameshwar Vyas issued notices to both the central and state governments seeking their replies within two weeks and slated January 4 as the next day for hearing of the petition.
The Notices were issued on a petition filed by Pali district’s Kissan Welfare Society which said the Gehlot government has dropped two important crops of the state – cotton and millet – from its list of crops for procurement under the Price Support Scheme on the MSP.
The state government has withdrawn cotton and millet from the MSP list despite the two crops still figuring on the centre’s list for the purpose, petitioner counsel Moti Singh Rajpurohit told the court.
He stated that crops of paddy, jawar, bajra, raagi, makka, cotton, moong, groundnut, soybean, arhar, urad and sunflower have been listed by the central government for the state for their purchase on MSP.
“But ignoring the centre’s order, the state government, in its order dated October 28, included only four crops moong, urad, soyabean and groundnut for the procurement on MSP and excluded two principal crops cotton and millet,” Mr Rajpurohit said.
Mr Rajpurohit told the court that the PSS is the central government’s scheme and the centre also gives fund to states to implement it.
Accordingly, the state government is obliged to implement the scheme in its letter and spirit, argued Mr Rajpurohit.
“But here, the state government has not only disregarded the central government’s decision on inclusion of the crops under PSS but also went on to exclude two important crops arbitrarily,” he argued.
The society in its prayer has sought the inclusion of cotton, millet, makka and jowar crops in the procurement process and has demanded that purchase of these crops be initiated on MSP with immediate effect at the designated procurement centers across the state.
Expressing surprise over the exclusion of the two important crops of the state, Mr Rajpurohit said millet is produced in 33 districts of the state while cotton is cultivated in 19 districts of the state.
“As per an estimate, total millet production of Rajasthan is estimated to be from 45 to 50 lakh metric ton per annum which accounted for 41 per cent of the total millet production of the country,” he said.
He said the MSP of both these crops has been fixed at ₹ 2,150 and ₹ 5,825 per quintal respectively and according to the reports, in absence of their purchase on MSP, farmers are compelled to sell them in the open market at ₹ 1,300 and ₹ 4,000 per quintal respectively.