Rise in paddy procurement, govt worried - ECAS Punjab

Rise in paddy procurement, govt worried

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Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30

The state has procured 39.19 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) of paddy, more than what the government had purchased last year. By this standard, paddy purchased is also 25 LMT more than the initially estimated production.

As the procurement season ended today, more than the jubilation over the high paddy production, the government is concerned over the steep rise in the paddy procurement and how to justify it while settling the accounts with the Centre. The amount paid for buying this surplus paddy is Rs 739 crore.

Data available with The Tribune shows that against the estimated paddy production of 176 LMT, of which 164 LMT that was to come to the mandis as marketable surplus, 200.75 LMT of paddy has been procured by government agencies. Other than this, the private agencies have also procured 1.18 LMT of paddy.

Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, maintains that this year the weather was conducive and the yield has been high. But the yield cannot be higher than 10 per cent, which means that the production could not have been higher than 193 LMT. "Now, with the market arrivals being around 202 LMT, the production should be around 210 LMT. But this is not the case, which proves that the paddy from outside the state has been brought here at cheaper rates and sold to government agencies," said a senior official in the Agriculture Department.

Food and Civil Supplies Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu told The Tribune that he had ordered a random screening of transactions in mandis. "A lot of farmers living in villages along the Haryana border sold their produce here instead of Haryana, which also added to our increase in procurement. But we are doing data analysis of all mandis and commission agents, where the sale of paddy is abnormally high. It will take another 15 days to complete the analysis and we intend to initiate legal action against those found guilty," he said.



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