The Centre may provide “some relief” (incentive) in the minimum price paid to paddy farmers who had suffered higher input costs on account of erratic monsoon. This was indicated by Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar at a meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal here on Wednesday.

Mr. Pawar said he was aware of the rising cost of production due to drought and the matter of giving incentive would be seriously looked into at the time of paddy procurement, Mr Badal said later.

The Chief Minster led a delegation of Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party MLAs and MPs from the State to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and sought a special drought relief package of Rs. 7,410 crore.

Mr. Badal sought an upward revision of the minimum support price for kharif paddy for the next marketing season starting October. Against the government-declared MSP of Rs. 980 a quintal, he sought Rs. 1,400 for Grade A variety. Instead of the MSP of Rs.950 a quintal for common variety, he sought Rs. 1,350 in view of higher input costs to farmers due to deficiency in rainfall.

Power supply

In the memorandum submitted to the government, Mr. Badal sought a Special Central Assistance of Rs. 1,420 crore towards dedicated power supply to paddy fields, an additional drought relief of Rs.100 a quintal for paddy over and above the minimum price already announced.

Saying that there was 38 per cent deficiency in monsoon rains, the Chief Minister also demanded a separate relief package for maize and cotton growers. The shortfall in rains had affected the inflows into the Bhakra, the Pong and the Ranjit Sagar Dams. To revamp the canals in the State, the Centre should release Rs. 3,000 crore, the memorandum said.

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