Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann will not attend the NITI Aayog meeting on May 27. CM Mann has decided not to attend the meeting, alleging discrimination for rural development funds with Punjab.

The Punjab government is attacking the Centre over non-release of the Rs 3,600 crore under Rural Development Fund (RDF). After repeated requests from the state government over the past one year, the Central government had flatly refused to refund the RDF money to Punjab as soon as the rabi procurement season began this year. The Centre took the step after Punjab had turned down the Centre’s offer of one per cent exemption. Now the Punjab government will send a final letter to the Centre for the outstanding amount of RDF. Even after this, if the payment is not made, then the entire matter will be approached in the Supreme Court, officials said.

In Punjab, the RDF amount of Rs 1100 crore for the 2021 procurement season has steadily increased to Rs 3600 crore with each previous procurement season. During the last paddy procurement season, the Centre had termed the RDF as unnecessary.

Following pressure from the Punjab government, the Centre agreed to clear the dues but offered to pay at the rate of 2 per cent instead of 3 per cent.

The Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution had said that the Punjab government should give a rebate of one per cent as its statutory fee in the case of food grains purchased for distribution among the poor and weaker sections, but the Punjab government had refused to do so.

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