The Congress-led Chhattisgarh government has locked horns with the Centre over the procurement of paddy in the state.
While the state government is insisting on increasing the minimum support price (MSP) of paddy and the state’s quota in the central pool, the Centre has reportedly rejected the demand, citing the higher procurement price being offered by Chhattisgarh. The Congress government in the state is paying Rs 2,500 per quintal of paddy to farmers in fulfilment of its election promise, which is Rs 750 more than the MSP fixed by the Centre.
As a result, the Chhattisgarh government has to shell out a huge sum from the state exchequer. In the kharif marketing season (KMS) 2018-19, the state government procured over 8.2 million tonnes (MT) of paddy. It has set a target of 8.7 MT in the current KMS as flow is likely to increase following the high procurement price. Procurement in the state starts on November 15.
State officials raised the issue with senior officials of the Centre during their recent visit. The latter reportedly refused to increase the state’s quota in the central pool citing sufficient quantity of rice in stock. The Centre had procured 2.4 MT of rice in the last KMS from Chhattisgarh. The state wanted to increase it to 3.2 MT in the current KMS.
The Centre had justified its refusal stating that the MSP had been fixed for all the states and norms could not be changed only for Chhattisgarh just to accommodate the higher price for procurement it was paying for the paddy. Moreover, it had said it did not want to create the pile of rice stock by purchasing from the states without sufficient demand.
Chhattisgarh seems to be in no mood to yield. “I had sought an appointment with you (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) to personally discuss the issue in view of urgency of the matter,” Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said in a letter to the Prime Minister. Baghel added that he could not get the appointment.