The Andhra Pradesh government has reacted to reports about a review meeting held on March 2 by Vice President Venkaiah Naidu on purchase of paddy in the state. Ministers Kurasala Kannababu, Kodali Venkateswara Rao and Poluboyina Anil Kumar in a letter addressed to Mr Naidu said they have come to know through the media that the issue was also discussed with the Union Minister for Agriculture and Food Processing.
"We are very happy about the special concern you have over Telugu farmers and Telugu people. We profusely thank you for the special interest you have been showing for the development of Andhra Pradesh ever since you became the Vice President in August 2017," says the letter.
They said that paddy procurement and payments, however, happen to be a state subject and sought the Vice President's help to get dues from the centre in this context.
The ministers say the YS Jagan Mohan Reddy government has been giving farmers more amount than the Minimum Support Price (MSP) fixed by the centre for the produce "which is not in vogue in any other state".
"Paying Rs 13,500 annually to farmers under Rythu Bharosa, buying agricultural produce that do not have MSP through special procurement centres have turned a golden chapter in state's history," the letter says, while also pointing out that the centre owes the State Rs 4,724 crore towards paddy purchase.
Of the Rs 8,000 crore paddy purchases in the state, the government has paid Rs 6,000 crore and the balance Rs 2,000 crore is due, the ministers said in the letter.
"The Chief Minister has also directed to clear the dues even if we have to borrow, we released the balance amount as well. Here we have to mention that the previous Chandrababu Naidu government has evaded Rs 960 crore dues to farmers in an irresponsible manner, just before elections."
The previous government reportedly did not clear dues mounting to Rs 40,000 crore to contractors, besides Rs 2.5 lakh crore loans thrust on the YSRCP government, they said.
"In this backdrop, we humbly request your help and special concern for the development of the state in getting the funds due from centre. Be it the Rs 4,724 crore due from centre, release of funds due under R&R package and construction of Polavaram project or fulfilling the assurances given under State Reorganization Act, we hope your special concern and initiative will be extended to see to it that the state gets funds from centre in a liberal manner under your guidance," the letter says.