Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday demanded that the Centre immediately release food subsidy bills amounting of Rs 3,654 crore payable to the state to protect farmers’ interest.
“It is a matter of concern that the subsidy bills amounting to Rs 3654.41 crore (which includes the advance subsidy up to March 2019) relating to Odisha are pending,” Patnaik said in a letter to Union Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan. “Such a huge pendency is causing shortage of funds at OSCSC (Odisha State Civil Supplies Corporation), which may become a major road block for ensuring timely payment to farmers,” the Chief Minister said.
Patnaik wrote the letter to the Union Minister seeking early release of subsidy money ahead of the Lok Sabha polls which is likely to be held along with the state assembly elections.
He said the OSCSC, a state PSU, has been procuring paddy since 2003-04 on behalf of the state government and funds for the operations are borrowed by the Corporation from banks. “Due to an effective and transparent Paddy Procurement Automation System (P-Pas) put in place by the government, the quantum of procurement has grown manifold and the cost of paddy is being directly transferred to the accounts of farmers,” he said. “Last year, Rs 7600 crore were transferred directly to the accounts of paddy farmers,” he added.
“This year, we have already procured more than 40,00,000 MT of paddy and more than Rs 6000 crore has already been transferred to accounts of farmers. Due to procurement of such huge quantity, the OSCSC is almost on the verge of reaching its cash credit limit,” the chief minister said.
In order to ensure that adequate funds are available with the OSCSC for payment to the farmers, it is necessary that the food subsidy is regularly released by the Centre to the government of Odisha, Patnaik said in his letter, copy of which was released here.