BHUBANESWAR: Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan on Wednesday criticised Odisha Government for rejecting the Centre’s offer to relax norms for procurement of paddy damaged in unseasonal rain. “It is unfortunate that the State Government has left the farmers at the mercy of rice millers by turning down the offer of the Centre,” Pradhan tweeted.
The Union Minister said Bihar had faced a situation similar to Odisha. However, Bihar government had accepted the Centre’s offer for a reduced minimum support price for paddy under relaxed FAQ (fair average quality) norms.Though State Government had requested the Centre to relax the FAQ norms for damaged, discoloured, sprouted and weevilled paddy, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution relaxed the quality norms for shrivelled and shrunken paddy.
The Centre relaxed the FAQ norms under special circumstances which is common for all states. Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan who hails from Bihar has not shown any special favour for his state, Pradhan said.If the State Government does not reconsider its decision, the farmers will be forced to go for distress sale of their paddy to private traders or rice mill owners. In a recent communication to the State Government, the Food Ministry had said that after relaxation of FAQ norms MSP for paddy will be reduced to `1,410 per quintal against `1,550 per quintal as announced for the current kharif marketing season (KMS).
While rejecting the Centre’s offer to relax quality norms for procurement of paddy at reduced MSP, Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Minister SN Patro had requested Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to seek the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi into the matter.It was expected that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik will take up the issue with the Prime Minister during his meeting with the latter in New Delhi. However, the Chief Minister said he had not discussed the issue with the Prime Minister.