The Centre on Wednesday announced to bear the value cut while procuring the wheat that has been damaged because of the unpredictable weather in the recent months.
The decision was finalised at a meeting of the union cabinet in New Delhi, which the officers of the Punjab food and civil supplies department eagerly awaited the entire day; it was conveyed to them in the evening.
The announcement brought relief to the dispensation in Punjab, which was anxious following the tardy procurement process. The procurement is expected to pick up now.
Earlier on April 22, the Centre had conveyed to Punjab that the loss in quality of wheat grain would lead to a value cut as per the prescribed norms, to which Punjab had strongly objected and asked the Centre to review its decision saying farmers should not be made to suffer for the vagaries of weather.
According to the communique received by the food and civil supplies department, the Centre will reimburse the amount of value cut imposed on the wheat being procured by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and state government agencies in Punjab, Gujarat, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh under the relaxed quality norms. The state food department is in the process of evaluating the exact quantum of value cut compensation.
The reimbursement of this amount would be made to the state governments through the FCI. The states have decided to bear the amount of value cut imposed on the wheat being procured from farmers by the FCI and state agencies under relaxed specifications in the current rabi marketing season.
After announcement of the value cut, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and food and civil supplies minister Adaish Partap Singh Kairon, along with their counterparts from Haryana and Rajasthan, took up the matter with the Centre and demanded that the clause of value cut in wheat procurement be abolished or the value cut be compensated by the Centre. Earlier, Badal had also written to the PM.
Badal and Kairon also met union minister for consumer affairs, food and public distribution Ram Bilas Paswan, who agreed that farmers should not be made to face the loss on crop. The relaxed norms for procurement with a value cut were accepted by Haryana before Punjab to which Kairon had objected and said that a wrong precedence was being set.
The procurement is expected to pick up after the announcement. The ground-level officials of the procurement agencies were wary of procuring poor quality foodgrain as it would have come into their account at the time of handing it over to the FCI.
Speaking on the development, Kairon said he was able to make a point that Punjab farmers should not be made to suffer for the unseasonal rains and hailstorms. “It was the moral duty of the Centre to bear the loss,” added Kairon.
BJP state president Kamal Sharma thanked the Centre for giving relief to the farmers. “Our government believes in working and not show-off,” he said.