Centre to reimburse Rs 1,500 crore to Punjab for pending transportation charges

By Hindustan Times on 31 Oct 2017 | read

The Centre has agreed to reimburse Punjab government around Rs 1,500 crore it spent on paddy transportation from kharif season of 2003-04 till 2014-15. The rate of transport for calculating the transport charges have been taken as Rs 12 per quintal. The Centre has asked the state government to recover Rs 3 per quintal from rice mills as milling charges for the same period.

“The amount which the centre will pay us has been estimated at around Rs 1,500 crore, and we have started the process of reimbursement,” said principal secretary, food and civil supplies, KAP Sinha, on Monday. He also spoke to the media on the paddy procurement operation across the state this year that is through 1,828 mandis and procurement centres.

The issue of the payment after 2014-15 was settled, with the Centre agreeing to pay Punjab Rs 15 per quintal transportation and milling charges for the paddy crop.

Sinha added the Centre had also agreed to pay Punjab 3% each rural development fund and infrastructure development fund, from which the state would earn Rs 900 crore in the current procurement season.

Procurement to be all-time high this year

The state government will procure all-time high quantity of 182 lakh tonne, through its five procurement agencies this year and has made arrangements for Rs 33,800 crore ofc(CCL). During the previous kharif season, the state agencies had procured 167 lakh tonne paddy.

Director, food and civil supplies, Anandita Mitra said the state government had received Rs. 28,000 crore CCL for procuring paddy. “We have disbursed Rs 16,000 crore to farmers and have, so far, procured 124 lakh tonnne of paddy. The government would seek Rs 600 to 700 crore for the procurement of entire food grain and disbursal of CCL from the centre was smooth this time,” said Mitra.

Response to OTS low

Speaking on a one-time settlement scheme for defaulter rice mills, Sinha said the response had not been as expected. Now, dues on account of undelivered rice of Rs 7,500 crore remained pending for about 1,537 mills.

“All five procurement agencies of the state were involved in the exercise and they are calculating how much have they settled with the mills,” said a food department officer.

“If they don’t settle they would not be able to function, as no paddy would be sanctioned to them,” Sinha added.

Basmati shining

The state food department disclosed that basmati arrival to date was 2 lakh tonne, four times last year’s figure. “Farmers are fetching a good price for basmati of up to Rs 3,200 a quintal. In the previous season, they were paid Rs 2,200 per quintal,” said an officer with the food department.

Despite Basmati price rise, Punjab border districts record 40% dip in cultivation