Shivraj Chouhan Accepts Bhavantar Bhugtan Scheme a Flop, Announces Sops to Rein in Farmers’ Discontent

Bhopal: Rattled by growing resentment among farmers after the launch of the Bhavantar Bhugtan scheme and amid mounting loans, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced a slew of relief measures on Monday.

Shivraj, who has come under an onslaught from Congress over farm discontent, alleged that the opposition feels pained whenever he does something for farmers.

Flaying the Congress demand of cancelling the event in the wake of unseasonal rains and hailstorm, Chouhan claimed that he won’t leave farmers in distress even in case of a natural disaster and would compensate the entire amount of losses incurred by them.

“Why did the Congress not express concern when peasants were charged farm loan interest at 18% which my government lowered to zero?” he asked.

He also accepted that his flagship, Bhavantar Bhugtan scheme, which aims to cushion farmers from price crashes, has problems and needs some changes. “The decision for discontinuing the scheme or bringing changes would be done if the farmers present here would give their approval, he said.

He also proposed a state-sponsored storage facility for crops if the farmers did not wish to sell the produce expecting prices to go up in the near future. “The rent of warehouse would be paid by the state government and for emergent needs of the farmers, 25% amount of the crop would be paid in advance,” he said.

Battered over charges of crop prices falling after the scheme was introduced, Chouhan claimed that crops were selling for dismal rates even in neighboring states. But he accepted that prices have slipped more in the state due to mass influx of produce in mandis under Bhavantar Bhugtan.

Claiming that year 2017 was below par in terms of agricultural income, he also announced Rs 200 per quintal bonus for wheat and paddy bought on MSP last year.

The Chief Minister also suggested alternative occupations to farmers. “Land is limited and farmers should look for alternative options in food processing and MP government would extend finance up to Rs two crore for such ventures with 15% subsidy,” he said, adding that 31,000 farmers would be covered in the scheme.