ALAPPUZHA: Civil Supplies Minister C. Divakaran has said that the procurement price of first quality paddy and that of damaged or sprouted paddy will not be the same.
Addressing a meeting at the Mankombu Rice Research Centre near here after inspecting his department’s paddy procurement at a nearby field on Wednesday, Mr. Divakaran said that same price for damaged paddy and first quality paddy was not practical. First quality paddy would be procured at the rate of Rs.1,000 a quintal. A high-level committee comprising seven government Secretaries will fix a price for sprouted/damaged paddy.
Officials have been directed to continue with the procurement drive and store damaged/sprouted paddy separately so that compensation could be disbursed later as per the price decided by the committee.
The Minister’s announcement came as a shock to many farmers at the venue — they were under the notion that the government’s assurance of complete procurement of paddy without discrimination meant that the price would be the same for both categories.
Mr. Divakaran pointed out that while the State Cabinet had fixed the compensation for rain-related damage in the State at the rate of Rs.10,000 a hectare, the Centre’s compensation was only Rs.250 a hectare.
He said the Chief Secretary would be directed to contact District Collectors of Kanyakumari and Coimbatore to arrange more combine harvester machines for Kerala. The process will be set in motion from Thursday.
With the first instalment of compensation from the interim relief of Rs.12 crore to be disbursed from Thursday, Mr. Divakaran said that paddy fields that reported 50 per cent or more damage would be considered completely damaged while those with lesser damage would be counted as having suffered only partial damage.
With farmers’ organisations and unions complaining that several farmers were yet to register with Supplyco for procurement of paddy, the Minister said the registration date would be extended by 10 days.