M A I N   N E W S

Central relief to Punjab millers
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 2
The Union Government today gave an extension to the Punjab Government for milling the remaining stocks of paddy, worth Rs 4,000 crore, till September 30.

The entire paddy procured for the Central pool by the state procurement agencies was to be shelled and transferred to the Food Corporation of India till July 30.

However, this could not be done due to various reasons, including the controversy over the PAU 201 variety of paddy and the unavailability of roofed space for the storage of rice with the FCI.

About 30 lakh tonnes of paddy is pending for shelling with various rice mills in Punjab. After procurement, the government procurement agencies hand over the paddy stocks to the rice mills for shelling.

Sources said that owing to efforts made by state Food and Supplies Minister Adesh Partap Singh Kairon and the personal influence wielded by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal with Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, the Union Government agreed to give an extension till September 30. Fresh paddy will start arriving in various grain markets in the first week of October and its procurement at the official level is also likely to start from October 1.

The Punjab State Power Corporation has also allowed the continuation of the “season power connection” to rice mills till August 31. Its earlier permission had expired on July 31.

Tarsem Saini, president of the Rice Millers Association, said he was hopeful that the entire pending stocks of paddy would be milled till September 30 and transferred to the FCI provided it cooperated with the millers in making space available for the milled rice. He said this was the worst season for rice millers, who faced many difficulties in the shelling of paddy. Saini said that owing to the support extended by the state government, millers would now be out of the difficult situation. Otherwise, the pending stocks of paddy had become a problem for them and the state government. Only after the rice stocks are transferred to the Central pool, money is reimbursed to the state government, which had to raise a loan from a consortium of banks. Though it is the responsibility of the Centre to provide food security to the country, it has put the entire burden of storage, milling and transfer of the rice stocks to the states concerned such as Punjab and Haryana.





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