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Tussle over paddy dole

Sushil Kumar Modi attacked chief minister Nitish Kumar on the paddy procurement issue even as the cabinet approved a dole of Rs 250 per quintal for the farmers.

Chief secretary Ashok Sinha said the dole was for paddy procurement during the current kharif season. The decision to give the bonus was taken at Saturday’s agriculture cabinet meeting.

“The government has decided to give bonus of Rs 250 per quintal on the procurement of paddy to promote it and give incentive to farmers who produced the crop in spite of deficient rainfall and cyclone Phailin. The farmers would get Rs 1,560 per quintal on paddy against the current support price of Rs 1,310 per quintal,” Sinha said.

The government plans to launch the Centre’s flagship food guarantee scheme, promising subsidised staple foodgrain to two-thirds of the population from February.

The opposition although viewed the government’s move with scepticism. Senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi said the act’s implementation would be hit because of low paddy procurement by the state this year.

At his janata durbar, Modi said: “Under the Food Security Act, 56 lakh tonnes of paddy is required for distribution among the beneficiaries. But this year, the state government has planned to procure only 30 lakh tonnes of paddy.”

Attacking chief minister Nitish Kumar for the delay in procurement, he said: “The process generally starts from mid-November, but this year, because of the government’s indifference, the notification was issued on December 6. Farmers sold their paddy in open markets at much lower rate.”

The cabinet also approved the food and consumer protection department’s proposal to appoint or designate an additional district magistrate-rank officer as “complaint disposal officer” for smooth and effective implementation of the National Food Security Act in the districts.