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Ram Vilas Paswan snubs Nitish Kumar on bonus payment

PTI 30 Nov 2014, 17:47:18 PM IST

Patna: The Centre today charged the Bihar government with launching a "misleading" campaign on the issue of bonus.

Union Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan also asked the state government to ensure adequate procurement of foodgrains to meet its requirement of PDS so that the Centre does not have to transport grains from outside.

"The Centre never banned payment of bonus to farmers in Bihar... the state government is indulging in misleading campaign on the issue," Paswan told reporters.

"Bihar has a poor track record on procurement of paddy and wheat for its PDS scheme. In past five years, it has not been able to purchase adequate quantity of foodgrains as per requirement of PDS and other welfare programmes," he said.

"Last year, Bihar produced 53 lakh tonne of wheat but the state government did not procure any wheat from the farmers as a result of which the staple grain had to be transported from Punjab, Haryana, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh to meet its requirements," Paswan said.

Likewise, out of total output of 91 lakh tonne paddy last year, only 15 lakh tonne of the grain was procured by the state government, he said.

"So far no wheat has been procured this year and paddy purchase has also not begun," Paswan said.

"Due to this the Central government is forced to spend a huge amount of money on bringing foodgrains from Punjab and Haryana to Bihar," the Minister said.

"The Centre's advisory on bonus was meant for only for surplus states where procurement is more than the requirement... seeing the data of previous years, it's clear that Bihar has not been able to purchase adequate quantity of grains. Hence the directive does not apply on it," Paswan said in a bid to put the record straight.

"Last year also Bihar had declared a bonus of Rs 250 per quintal on paddy but procured only 15 lakh tonne of it. We want the state government to raise its purchase along with announcement of increasing bonus to Rs 300 per quintal in 2014-15 so that wheat and rice are not transported from other surplus states to it," he said.