This 'kharif' season has already been troublesome for rice millers across the state, so far. In another demoralising decision by the Centre, milling charges have now been reduced from `15 to `10 per quintal.
Apart from that, the union government has also decided to deduct transportation rates, which were a part of milling charges for the past 40 years.
Earlier, Food Corporation of India (FCI) bore transportation costs from the grain market to stocking points of state procurement agencies or FCI up to 8km.
Moreover, FCI also reimbursed transportation expenditure incurred by rice millers, if depots or stocking points were situated beyond 8km.
However, according to the new decision, the government has decided not to include transportation cost in milling charges up to 8km.
Instead, the Centre has decided to reimburse all transportation costs starting from zero kilometre, without fixing the rate per kilometre which is to be reimbursed to rice millers.
"The decision by the Centre is not at all lucrative for rice millers since the government has failed to fix rates per kilometre to be reimbursed to us from grain markets to stocking points," said Tarsem Singh Saini, president of the Punjab rice miller association.
Saini said the decision of reducing milling charges was totally anti-rice shellers and was a cause of harassment to the milling industry of Punjab.
"On one hand, tariff commission appointed by the government to consider the revision of milling charges, has been recommending an increase in milling charges but on the other hand, the government has reduced it by one-third of charges before," said Saini.
The millers appealed to the Punjab government to take up the matter with the Centre to fix transportation rates prior to reimbursement for the delivery of procured paddy to stocking point.