Thiruvananthapuram: Many paddy growers in Kerala are awaiting payment from the central and state governments. The latter is yet to clear the dues against the price of paddy procured from farmers.
According to Supplyco statistics, 4,100 farmers have been paid till now by the State Government, while 23,691 farmers are yet to get the money. The Central Government has to release Rs 637.7 crore as arrears in paddy price.
Although the State Government has managed to obtain Rs 240 crore as Paddy Receipt Sheet (PRS) loans for farmers from a consortium of banks, only Rs 38.74 crore has been disbursed to them as the price of paddy procured during the second crop season.
The banks began the payment of money on August 24. At the current pace, it will take at least two weeks to complete the payments. The government had promised that all payments would be made before Onam.
(PRS loans are money given to farmers on the basis of the Paddy Receipt Sheet (PRS) issued by Supplyco which procures the grain. The State is paying as PRS loans the support price of Rs 20.40 per kg that the Central Government should disburse as its share. )
While Canara Bank, which is part of the consortium, paid Rs 38.32 crore to over 4,000 farmers, the State Bank of India disbursed Rs 42 lakh to fewer than 100 farmers.
Central share too pending
The Centre will release the funds after the State submits details of the account related to the expenses on paddy transport to the mills, conversion into rice by de-hulling, and its supply through ration shops. This process takes around four to six months. The State’s share of Rs 7.92 per kg as an incentive bonus and handling charges was paid to the farmers earlier.
Central officials said that the delay in extending its payment was because the State had failed to submit the details of the account on time.
Although the State Government pays the interest on the PRS loans, if it fails to pay the interest and the principal on time, it will impact the CIBIL score of the farmers. The loans have a term limit of one year.
Union Secretary to visit Kerala
Sanjeev Chopra, Secretary to the Union Ministry of Food and Public Distribution, will visit Kerala next week in order to hold discussions with the State Government on issues including the central arrears on paddy procurement price. He will conduct discussions with Food and Civil Supplies Minister G R Anil and top State officials in Thiruvananthapuram on September 5.
Ajith Kumar, who is holding charge as the Secretary to the State Department of Food and Civil Supplies, had visited Delhi last week and held discussions with Central officials and explained the details of the account.