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Posted at: Sep 16, 2019, 12:48 PM; last updated: Sep 16, 2019, 12:48 PM (IST)

Punjab Cabinet gives nod to new paddy policy with more teeth to check rice diversion

Punjab Cabinet gives nod to new paddy policy with more teeth to check rice diversion
File photo

Tribune News Service 
Chandigarh, September 16

The Punjab Cabinet led by Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday approved the Punjab Custom Milling Policy for Paddy (Kharif 2019-20), with more security provisions, including criminal penalty for diversion of rice.

The scheme, aimed at ensuring seamless milling of paddy and smooth delivery of rice to the Central Pool from more than 4,000 mills operating in the state, would be followed by state procuring agencies i.e. PUNGRAIN, MARKFED, PUNSUP, and Punjab State Warehousing Corporation (PSWC), as well as the Food Corporation of India and the Rice Millers/their legal heirs.
The Department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, Punjab, will act as the Nodal Department.

A spokesperson of the Chief Minister's Office said the sole criterion for allotment of free paddy to mills during KMS 2019-20 would be the miller's performance in the previous year i.e. KMS 2018-19.

An additional percentage-wise incentive would be provided to mills as per their date of delivery of rice against milling of custom milled paddy, including RO paddy in the previous year.

Mills, which had completed their milling by January 31, 2019, would be eligible for additional 15 per cent of free paddy, the spokesperson said, adding that those who had completed delivery of rice by February 28, 2019, would get an additional 10 per cent of free paddy.

In order to ensure the security of paddy stocks, millers this year would be required to furnish bank guarantee equal to the value of 5 per cent  of acquisition cost of allocable free paddy above 3000 MTs.

The move would further enlarge the ambit of guarantee clause to over 1,250 more rice mills, taking the total number of such mills to around 1900. In addition, millers will also have to deposit Custom Milling Security at the rate of Rs 125 for each MT of paddy stored.

To guard against any diversion of NFSA/PDS rice, a provision for initiation of criminal proceedings under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Essential Commodities Act (ECA) has been added in case such practice is detected. The rice miller would be required to ensure that the paddy/rice purchased in his own account and stored in the mill is genuine trade commodity and not diverted from rice meant form the welfare schemes.

The miller would be required to purchase a minimum of 150 MTs of paddy in his own account or he shall deposit Rs 5 lakh non-refundable and Rs 5 lakh refundable security in lieu of the same. If a miller is an owner/partner of more than one mill, and it comes to notice at any stage that only one mill was being used to mill paddy and deliver rice on behalf of his other mills, all such mills would be blacklisted. The newly established rice mills shall be allocated 2,500 MTs of paddy for 1 tonne capacity with subsequent allocation of additional 500 MTs of paddy for every additional tonne of capacity, subject to maximum allocation of 5,000 MTs.

For efficient and time-bound redressal of any dispute, an explicit provision of first appeal from orders passed by the District Allotment Committee related to any Clause of policy would lie with Director Food and Supplies and a second appeal there from with the Principal Secretary Food and Supplies.

The state is expected to procure 170 lakh MTs of paddy with total area under paddy sowing being 29 lakh hectares this year coming down from 31.03 lakh hectares the previous season.

The target was to complete the Custom Milling of Paddy, thereby delivering all due rice to Food Corporation of India, by March 31, 2020.

The surplus paddy within a district or outside would be shifted through the issue of Release Orders (ROs) under the Release Order Scheme, as per which the miller would have to deposit non-refundable fee of Rs 30/- per MT. In case of shifting of paddy from a paddy surplus or/and milling capacity deficient district such as Amritsar, Fazilka, Ferozepur, Gurdaspur, Pathankot and Taran Taran, the non-refundable RO fee would be Rs 15 per MT.

Under the milling schedule prescribed, millers would have to deliver 35 per cent of their total rice due by December 31, 2019 and 60 per cent of total rice due by January 31, 2020; 80 per cent of total rice due by February 29, 2020, and total rice due by March 31, 2020.

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