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The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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One-year wait for paddy cash

Burdwan, Jan. 9: Over 350 farmers of Burdwan’s Manteswar have not got the full price for paddy they sold to a local co-operative society in February-March last year.

A delegation of the farmers from 14 villages under the Jamna gram panchayat in Manteswar plan to meet chief minister Mamata Banerjee when she visits Burdwan tomorrow and request her to ensure that the payment is made.

The Trinamul Congress-dominated Jamna Agricultural Co-operative Society claimed it did not have funds.

One of the directors of the co-operative, Prasad Dhara, said: “I understand the problems the farmers are facing. We had bought paddy from them on behalf of the ECSC (Essential Commodities Supply Corporation). We bought 17,260 quintals of paddy from 530 farmers. Full payments have been made to 170 farmers and the remaining 360 have got 50 per cent payment.”

The district controller of food and supplies, S.N. Bankura, said: “We have found some anomalies in payments made by the co-operative. We have started an investigation. The preliminary probe has revealed that the co-operative had indulged in favouritism while making payments.”

The rice had been bought under the supervision of the ECSC

Farmers Amitabha Mondal of Selia village, Abdur Rahman Mollah of Kule and Tarun Mondal of Maraipiri said the affected peasants had discussed the issue among themselves yesterday and decided to meet the chief minister “as the last resort”.

“We sold paddy to the co-operative society in February-March last year. But we are yet to get our payments. Food minister Jyotipriya Mullick had claimed last month that all payments had been made. An elderly woman, Jayabati Ghosh, committed suicide on October 7 apparently because she could not bear the problems of her son Amrita (who is yet to receive the payment),” said Abdur Rahman Mollah.

He said the farmers had organised a hunger strike in front of the block development office on October 9 and later met several senior officials but nothing had been done yet.