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Rs 50 bonus on paddy MSP
S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 15
Under political pressure, especially from its key ally DMK, the Congress-led UPA government today announced an additional incentive bonus of Rs 50 per quintal for paddy/rice for the Kharif Marketing Season (KMS) 2007-08.

This additional Rs 50 per quintal bonus is over and above the bonus of Rs 50 per quintal already announced by the government for paddy for the KMS 2007-08, information and broadcasting minister P.R Dasmunsi said after the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

With today’s announcement, the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for common variety of paddy would be Rs 745 per quintal (Rs 645+Rs 50+Rs 50) and for Grade ‘A’ would be Rs 775 (Rs 675+Rs 50+Rs 50).

“The benefit of grant of incentive bonus on paddy in addition to MSP for KMS 2007-08 will encourage farmers to grow more paddy and also contribute more for the procurement for central pool,” Dasmunsi said.

The government had faced the wrath of several political parties after it enhanced the MSP of wheat to Rs 1,000 and kept the MSP for rice/paddy at a lower level.

One of the key allies of the Congress-led UPA, the DMK was quite vociferous on the issue and there was also demand from the main opposition BJP and the TDP for enhancing the MSP for paddy.

DMK chief and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.Karunanidhi went to the extent of terming the widening gap between the MSP for wheat and paddy as “widening North-South divide”.

Leader of the Opposition and senior BJP leader L.K Advani had written a letter to the Prime Minister stating that there was growing unrest among paddy growers over the mismatch between the MSP of paddy and the cost of cultivation.

In another major decision, the CCEA also approved a scheme on “Artificial Recharge of Ground Water through Dugwells” in hard rock areas at a total cost of Rs 1871.10 crore out of which subsidy amount will be Rs 1499.27 crore.

The scheme envisages ground water recharge programme in 1,180 over exploited, critical and semi critical assessment units through 4.455 million existing irrigation dugwells owned by the farmers in association with Central Ground Water Board and NABARD.

Provision of 100 per cent subsidy to marginal and small farmers’ and 50 per cent subsidy for other farmers has been made in this scheme, to be implemented in three years during 11th Plan i.e. 2007-08 to 2009-10.

The benefits of the scheme would be augmentation of ground water resources and improvement of ground water quality; increase in availability of water for irrigation leading to creation of additional irrigation potential and arrest of declining ground water level; facilitate strengthening of institutional framework for water resource and irrigation management at state level/user level; and creation of awareness/capacity building and community participation in recharge activities, Dasmunsi said.

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