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HC questions Centre over maize import

The Punjab and Haryana high court on Wednesday questioned the central government over its move to import maize while the crop was not being procured from farmers under minimum support price (MSP) scheme.

punjab Updated: Apr 06, 2017 11:23 IST
HT Correspondent
HC questions Centre
The HC bench asked the counsels representing the Centre and Punjab as to what was the policy under which the state agencies were not procuring crops from local farmers, who were forced to sell it in the open market for paltry sums, and on the other hand the Centre was inviting tenders for duty-free import of such a large quantity of maize.(Livemint representative image)

The Punjab and Haryana high court on Wednesday questioned the central government over its move to import maize while the crop was not being procured from farmers under minimum support price (MSP) scheme. 

The HC bench of justices SS Saron and Darshan Singh, which was hearing a plea seeking procurement of maize and millet on MSP, expressed surprise when the petitioner’s counsel, JS Toor, informed it that the state as well as Centre had been making excuses and passing the buck over procurement but recently the Union government decided to import 5 lakh tonne of maize, that too without imposing any duty. 

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The HC bench asked the counsels representing the Centre and Punjab as to what was the policy under which the state agencies were not procuring crops from local farmers, who were forced to sell it in the open market for paltry sums, and on the other hand the Centre was inviting tenders for duty-free import of such a large quantity of maize. 

The HC bench while posting the matter for May 4 has sought response from department of food and public distribution and other departments of the central government and has also asked Punjab to make its stand clear. 

The Punjab government has been arguing that procurement should be done by the central agencies and if state was to do it, the Centre should provide advance cash for the same and compensate for incidental losses. It has also stated that maize can’t be used for public distribution system (PDS), as there was no demand. On the other hand, the Centre had been maintaining that it was ready to compensate the state for the losses incurred for distribution of maize for the PDS. As for procurement, it wanted state agencies to do it and is refusing to provide any advance for the same, stating that such a provision could not be made as other states were also not getting any such benefit.