Punjab wants Rs 7,400 cr to tackle drought

Chandigarh, Punjab: Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today assured the Prime Minister that the state would meet its grain production target for the national food pool. However, the state and its farmers paid a heavy price to maintain the crop due to unprecedented dry spell, he said.

Badal said the immediate need was to hike the minimum support price for paddy by another Rs 400 per quintal. At present, the MSP is Rs 980 for fine grade and Rs 950 for the common variety. In total, the state has asked for a special package of Rs 7,410 crore from the centre to fight the drought-like situation in the state.

Just the demand to jack up the MSP for paddy will add up to Rs 4,400 crore out of the entire package. Another Rs 1,100 crore is needed for drought relief for paddy and cotton and Rs 1420 crore is needed to tide over the money the state spent spent for diversion of 3500 million units of power to agriculture sector from industrial commercial and domestic paying sectors.

A delegation of the SAD-BJP had met the Prime Minister and also agriculture minister Sharad Pawar today.

In the detailed memorandum submitted by the delegation, the SAD-BJP leaders also drew the attention to major damage suffered by maize and cotton growers due to shortfall in rain.