Opposition members in Rajya Sabha today strongly raised the issue of agrarian crisis in the country, saying farmers were being forced to do distress sale of crops in the face of cheaper zero-duty imports. Several members gave notices under rule 267 that allows adjournment of the proceedings to take up a discussion on an issue. Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said a discussion on the matter has been accepted and the members can raise their points during the debate. Raising the issue, Sharad Yadav (JD-U) claimed that 15-20 farmers were committing suicide every day.
He said pulses production has been raised by 33 per cent but the government has lowered the import duty on it to zero, resulting in cheaper shipments into the country. Farmers, he said, are being forced to make distress sale. Digvijaya Singh (Cong) said the farmers were getting “bullets instead of price”. Kurien said besides Yadav, Pramod Tiwari (Cong), Naresh Agarwal (SP), Ram Gopal Yadav (SP), Kapil Sibal (Cong) and Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) had given notice under 267 on the issue.
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A discussion on the subject has been admitted and the members can raise their points then, he said. Ali Anwar Ansari (JD-U) through a Zero Hour mention raised the issue of manual scavenging saying this practice was continuing even after the government has declared it illegal. Four workers, he said, died in the national capital due to toxic gases while cleaning a septic tank. “All four are dalits,” he said, adding over 2,500 dalits have lost their lives in last two-and-half-years due to this practice but no cases have been registered or compensation paid. While the government on the one hand talks of going to Mars, on the other it provides no equipment or apparatus for such cleaning activities, he said. “Our sensitivities are dead,” he said.