Millions of potatoes carpet Jalandhar streets as farmers protestDecember 15th, 2011 - 8:01 pm ICT by IANS
Jalandhar/Chandigarh, Dec 15 (IANS) Residents and motorists in Jalandhar city and some other parts of Punjab were greatly inconvenienced as farmers dumped hundreds of quintals of potatoes on the streets to lodge their unique protest Thursday against falling prices.
Having announced last week that they would dump their bumper crop in Jalandhar and other places Thursday, the farmers brought nearly 300 tractor-trolleys towards Jalandhar Thursday morning.
With tight police security at all entry points of Jalandhar city being tight, only about 50 tractor trolleys were able to get into the city and started dumping their potato produce on the roads. This led to traffic being affected on these roads. The rest of the trolleys were stopped at the city’s entry points.
The potato crop was mainly dumped on the G.T. (Grand Trunk) Road and near the Guru Nanak Mission chowk. Hundreds of quintals were also dumped on the Nakodar-Shahkot road.
Potato growers in Punjab, led by the Jalandhar Potato Growers Association, are protesting against the failure of the government to help them after a bumper crop this year has brought a glut in the market and potatoes are being sold at Rs.1 to Rs.1.50 per kg.
“The prevailing prices are not even covering our input costs. The state and central government are doing nothing to help us. We have dumped the crop on the roads to highlight our plight,” association president J.S. Sangha said.
In Mohali town, adjoining Chandigarh, potato farmers dumped their produce on the road.
BJP MP from Amritsar Navjot Singh Sidhu was among the commuters on one of the roads caught in the traffic jam caused by the dumping of potatoes on the roads.
The farmers blocked roads and highways at different places and raised slogans against the central and Punjab governments.
Though the state government Sunday announced a freight subsidy of 50 paise per kg for transportation within the country and Rs.1.50 for export, potato growers say it is “too meagre”.
“The meagre subsidy is a cruel joke with potato growers,” Sangha said.
Former chief minister and Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh Thursday regretted the plight of the potato growers. He criticized the state government for failing in its recent commitment to the farmers to provide them freight subsidy.
In 2000, potato growers had faced a similar situation and had dumped hundreds of quintals of potatoes on the streets of Jalandhar.
Sangha said that over 40 lakh gunny bags of potato crop from last year was lying in cold storages across Punjab and the new bumper crop had added to their woes.
Potatoes are grown over an area of over 80,000 hectares in Punjab, especially in Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Nawanshahr, Hoshiarpur, Ludhiana, Moga and Bathinda districts.
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Tags: amritsar, association president, bumper crop, central government, chandigarh, commuters, grand trunk road, guru nanak, nakodar, navjot singh sidhu, paise, police security, potato crop, potato farmers, potato growers association, quintals, rs 1, sangha, traffic jam, trolleys