"Paddy purchase is going on extensively in the country. Punjab has purchased 116 lakh tonnes of paddy till December 23. On the other hand, Bihar is far behind and has managed to purchase only 750 tonnes of paddy till now, though it started buying paddy from November 25," Paswan said.
    
He said the central government has fixed the minimum support price (MSP) at Rs 1,400 per quintal for grade A quality of paddy and Rs 1,360 per quintal for normal paddy.
    
The aim was to ensure that farmers get adequate price for their crop and were not forced to sell it at cheaper prices to middlemen, he said.
    
The minister pointed out that the paddy purchase period is fixed on the basis of advice from the state government and for Bihar it was fixed till January 31, 2015.
    
"We can increase the paddy purchase period for Bihar, but for that the state government will have to tell clearly till when paddy will be harvested and how much more time they need. We do not want the farmers of Bihar to sell theirv produce to middlemen at very less rates," Paswan said.
    
Paswan, Lok Sabha member from Hajipur in Bihar, said the state government demanded Rs 1158 crore from the Centre as subsidy for transporting rice from depots to PDS outlets.
    
"Bihar government has sent the bill for January to September 2014 to Centre in November. The rule is to send bills every three months. Still, we have approved the bills worth Rs 437 crore for January to June 2014 and the money will be released in January 2015," he said.
    
Paswan said bills for July to September 2014 worth Rs 721 crore were not cleared as discrepancies have been found. Once the state government rectifies them, money will be immediately released.

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