Farm­ers’ no to en­try of pri­vate play­ers

India Today - - INVESTIGATION -

The Gov­ern­ment’s decision in April to throw open the opium sec­tor to pri­vate cor­po­rates has drawn stiff op­po­si­tion from farm­ers. The plan is to al­low pri­vate cor­po­rates to pro­duce con­cen­trate of poppy straw to make pain re­liev­ers. Cur­rently, li­censed farm­ers are al­lowed to sell poppy plants only to two state- run opium and al­ka­loid fac­to­ries. The li­censees will be al­lowed to use a new tech­nol­ogy— con­cen­trate of poppy straw— for ex­tract­ing opium. The Gov­ern­ment thinks this will pre­vent leak­ages from the farms.

“The plan to al­low the pri­vate sec­tor will even­tu­ally lead to clos­ing down of public sec­tor units and will af­fect the liveli­hood of farm­ers,” says Shailen­dra Singh Thakur of the Opium and Al­ka­loid Fac­tory Work­ers’ Union. Even the Congress is a di­vided house on the is­sue.“The Gov­ern­ment should make sure farm­ers are heard be­fore tak­ing any decision,” says Meenakshi Na­tra­jan, Mpfrom Mand­saur, Mad­hya Pradesh. Dis­trict Congress lead­ers, how­ever, ac­cuse her of not do­ing enough.“As an MP, she is not speak­ing on be­half of opium farm­ers. This makes one won­der if she is act­ing on be­half of pri­vate sec­tor play­ers,” al­leges for­mer Mand­saur dis­trict Congress pres­i­dent Suren­der Sethi.

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