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Punjab slashes levy security for rice millers from 10 lakh to 7.25 lakh

Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By HT Correspondents
PUBLISHED ON OCT 09, 2019 10:52 PM IST

Chandigarh In light of the ongoing strike by a group of rice millers, Punjab food, civil supplies and consumer affairs minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu said the state government had slashed levy security from 10 lakh to 7.25 lakh. He added that the decision was taken to save farmers from any harassment and to meet genuine demands of rice millers. This was decided at a meeting held under the chairmanship of Ashu and rural development and panchayats minister, Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa. Prominent rice millers of the state, including the Gian Bharadwaj Group and the Rakesh Jain Group were present.

“The entire levy security would be refundable now, against the previous system of 5 lakh refundable and 5 lakh non-refundable,” he added, saying this was a respite for rice millers. Now, providing bank guarantee shall be applicable only to millers for quantum of paddy stored over and above 5,000 MT, instead of 4,000 MT.

“Rice millers who apply before October 10, 2019, would be allotted paddy on priority and without pro rata cut, the quantum of the release orders of those millers will also be increased,” the minister said, adding that those rice mills which had opened last year and the year before that would be treated as old mills.

He added that if due to shortage of space, the miller was not able to deliver rice, he would not have to pay any interest. “To waive off this interest on quality cut, a case had already been favourably forwarded to the finance department,” he said, adding that only one particular group with vested interests was on strike and was trying to misguide other rice millers too. “This has meant that of 4,000-odd rice mills, only 1,500 have been allotted paddy.”

The minister also urged millers to apply before October 10 (Thursday) to avail maximum government benefits. He also reiterated that there was no shortage of space, a worry that millers have often expressed.

Section of millers to boycott policy

Punjab Rice Millers Association has reiterated its call to boycott the Punjab Custom Milling Policy for paddy. There is also a New Punjab Rice Millers’ Association.

The Punjab association also called a general House meeting in Kotkapura on October 15 and has decided that millers, affiliated to them, will neither provide gunny bags nor execute shelling agreement for milling. Rice millers have been boycotting paddy procurement, since the season commenced in October. Association president Tarsem Saini said there was no truth to minister Ashu’s assertion that their strike was politically motivated.

State, Centre to blame for rice millers’ woes: AAP

Chandigarh The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Wednesday blamed the state and central governments for problems being faced by rice millers, farmers and other stakeholders during the paddy procurement operations in the state.

In a joint statement, leader of opposition Harpal Singh Cheema and AAP’s state trade wing chief Nina Mittal said the new custom milling policy had added to the woes of the sheller owners and ruined their industrial prospects in a highly competitive market. Mittal is also interim president of the New Punjab Rice Millers Association (NPRMA).

Accusing the state and the Centre of running away from their statutory obligations, Cheema demanded a special session of the state assembly to hammer out a solution to problems. “If the Kejriwal-led Delhi government can resolve issues of the people by convening a special session of the Vidhan Sabha, why can’t Congress government replicate the model in Punjab?,” he asked. Mittal also lashed out at food and supplies minister Ashu for terming the widespread resentment among the sheller owners as politically motivated.

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