Addressing a meeting of rice millers, led by All India Rice Miller Association and Punjab State Rice Millers Association, the Chief Minister also promised revival of sick rice milling units to be taken up on priority by his government.
The Chief Minister said everything was in place for smooth procurement of paddy in this season, when an estimated 182 lakh tonnes of the crop was expected to come into the market, as against the previous season’s target of 165 lakh tonnes, said an official release.
The mandis were witnessing 182 per cent increase in arrival of cotton crop as compare to last year, as a result of the collective efforts of the state government, PAU and farmers, backed by favourable weather conditions, said the Chief Minister, expressing satisfaction over the bumper production of cotton.
Reiterating his government’s commitment to early redressal of the various problems faced by the beleaguered industry, Mr Singh pointed out that his government had recently announced a One Time Settlement (OTS) scheme to provide an opportunity to all defaulter rice millers to clear their past dues.
Around 1,500 of the total 3,500 defaulting and sick milling units would benefit by the scheme, he said, adding that this was one of the several measures initiated to bring the industry back on the path of progress.
Responding to a demand from the rice millers, Mr Singh said he would take up the issue of ‘Bardana’ use and transportation charges with the central government next week at his meeting with Union Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan.
On the issue of millers in surplus paddy districts being given more paddy at a rate of 140 per cent of their original entitlement, he assured that no miller would be forced to mill paddy beyond his capacity and only those willing to mill extra paddy would be considered.
The Chief Minister called upon the rice milling industry to collaborate with the state government in ensuring smooth procurement of paddy in the forthcoming kharif season.
Collective efforts always yield positive results, he said, recalling the success of the collaboration between the farmers and the government in tackling the recent whitefly attack on cotton crops.
With farming community and the agricultural scientists of the Government of Punjab coming together, the spread of the whitefly was successfully prevented, he added.
Punjab Mandi Board Chairman Lal Singh blamed the previous SAD-BJP government for the “mess” in the industry, saying the Akalis and BJP had “plundered” the state, leaving it under a massive debt burden of Rs 2.08 lakh crore as a result of its “ill-conceived and corrupt” policies.
Under Amarinder Singh led government, the state was witnessing a turnaround with more than 300 new rice mills already set up in just six months, said Lal Singh, promising to act as a bridge between the milling community and the government to resolve any issues of concern.