Saturday, October 20, 2007

VJAS moves HC to hike cotton MSP-Times reports

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VJAS moves HC to hike cotton MSP
21 Oct 2007, 0209 hrs IST,Vaibhav Ganjapure,TNN

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NAGPUR: For probably the first time Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court will hear arguments on an application to hike prices of a crop. The matter is likely to come up before the division bench comprising justices Dilip Sinha and Bhushan Dharmadhikari on Tuesday.

The criminal application was filed by Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti president Kishore Tiwari, who added this issue to his earlier petition filed in public interest, charging the state government of ignoring farmers community that led them to take the extreme step of suicide. Firdos Mirza and Vinod Tiwari are the counsels for the petitioner.

The petitioner claimed that the government failure to increase ‘minimum support prices’ (MSP) of cotton to a substantial level has led cotton-growers to suffer severe losses. Due to the advent of BT cotton variety (H4), farmers have to invest more, as the new variety consumes more water, destroys quality soil and is costly.

The MSP of all major crops including wheat, barley, gram and masoor has been increased substantially. However, the MSP of cotton in 1997-98 - Rs 1,330 for normal cotton and Rs 1,530 for BT cotton - was increased to Rs 1,800 and Rs 2,030 in 2007-08. Percentage-wise, the MSP of cotton has been increased by just 24.63%, while even tobacco has seeb an increase of 37.5% and soyabean a hike of 28.5% in the last decade. If the increase in MSP of the last three years is taken into account, then it is 33.33% for wheat, but only 1.69% for normal cotton and just 2.01% for BT cotton.

According to the petitioner, cotton-growers in Vidarbha are the sufferers of extremely high costs of production as well as non-remunerative support prices fixed by the CACP. As a result, cotton-cultivating farmers have been compelled to commit suicide due to depression and economic crisis. Moreover, agricultur as a profession has become economically unviable.

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