Private rice millers of the district said they would boycott sale of paddy from various grain markets if the government failed to increase the moisture content limit from 14% to 15%, as per their demand. The central government had reduced the limit from 15% to 14%.
Association press secretary Nakesh Jindal said only government agencies had been buying paddy from the markets since October 1 when paddy procurement started in the state. Jindal said they had already handed over a memorandum to Ram Vilas Paswan, union food and civil supplies minister, requesting him to extend the moisture limit from 14% to 15%.
He said on September 27, they clearly told the government at a press conference that they would not be able to store paddy or do any milling as it was not possible to preparerice with 14% moisture content.
He further said despite meeting state government officials over this issue, rice millers did not get a positive response from them.
He said, "We are being asked to not only prepare rice with 14% moisture content but also deliver it two months earlier than usual. We requested the state government to ask the Centre to extend the delivery deadline for custom-milled rice."
Jindal said the central policy had shocked Punjab's rice industry and in spite of repeated requests, the policy had not been reviewed.
"The moisture content in paddy is bound to be high because of untimely rain. Moving the delivery deadline from June 30 to April 15 is unfair. When the Food Corporation of India (FCI) has procured rice that has more moisture content, why impose the condition now," he added.
He further added that due to this decision by the Centre, not only were rice millers suffering but farmers were also frustrated moving from pillar to post for selling paddy in the markets.
He also urged the state government should support the millers in their cause and raise this issue in front of the central government.