Pending payments: Angry Punjab rice millers threaten to boycott paddy lifting

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Patiala
  • Updated: Jul 25, 2016 15:53 IST
Punjab Rice Millers Association president Tarsem Saini addressing mediapersons in Patiala on Sunday. (Bharat Bhushan/HT)

After facing a lot of problems in paddy procurement because of cash credit limit controversy, a new trouble is brewing up for the Punjab government in the coming paddy season, as the Punjab Rice Millers Association has threatened to boycott the paddy lifting, storage and milling process.

The rice millers are important link in paddy procurement in the state and their non-cooperation will lead to massive inconvenience to the Punjab government as the state elections are also near. A distressed sale might spoil the chances of the SAD-BJP government in the upcoming polls.

Addressing a press conference here, Rice Millers Association national president Tarsem Saini said nearly `1,500 crore of rice millers were pending with the government. “The last paddy milling season got over on March 31. But neither the government has released the freight charges, labour charges, packing material expenses, nor it has returned the security deposit taken from every rice mill before the paddy procurement,” said Saini.

He said the rice millers in the entire state were agitated, as the government was not releasing their money that it had taken as security deposit. “When we have supplied the rice after completing milling, why the government is not releasing our security deposit,” questioned Saini.

He said the central government had released the freight, labour and packing material charges, but the state government was not giving this amount to the rice millers. “In Punjab the babus are calling the shots and denying the possible relief to the millers. There is no single procurement policy. We have had a distressed season, as non payments has eroded all income of the rice millers. Thus we have no option left then to boycott the rice procurement, storage and milling, if government fails to fulfill our demands,” threatened Saini, who was flanked with all office-bearers of Punjab Rice Millers Association.

He also charged that there was widespread corruption in various procurement agencies of the Punjab government, which had been demanding bribe from the rice millers. He asked the Punjab food and civil supplies minister and the Punjab CM to intervene in the matter.

As per details, there are 3,260 rice millers in Punjab and they carry out milling of paddy, which is sent to different parts of India as rice. Nearly 90 percent of Punjab’s paddy is exported to other states and foreign countries after milling. As Punjab is facing shortage of storage capacity, most of the paddy is stored in rice millers, who are also asked to do the milling for the government.

Patiala Rice miller Association president Gurdeep Singh Cheema and other office bearers, including Dilbagh Singh, Devinder Bagga, Ashok Moudi and Jaspal Singh Pali were also present.

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