BHUBANESWAR: Taking the battle against the BJD government over alleged mismanagement in paddy procurement in Odisha to the Centre, the BJP on Wednesday sought the intervention of Union Food and Public Distribution Minister Piyush Goyal on the issue.
A delegation of BJP MPs led by Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan met Goyal and submitted a memorandum to the latter alleging gross irregularities in Kharif paddy procurement in the State. The delegation comprising Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, BJP MPs and the party’s Krushak Morcha president Pradip Purohit apprised Goyal on how the decentralised procurement system is benefiting the rice millers rather than farmers.
While the number of mandis operating in the State is inadequate to handle the high volume of paddy being brought to the markets for sale under minimum support price, the window open for delivery of paddy through the online token system is too small. The tokens often get lapsed due to delay in procurement and the State government is reluctant to issue fresh tokens.
Referring to the fact-finding team of the Central government that toured Odisha from March 23 to 25 following complaints from the State BJP MPs on alleged mismanagement in procurement, the memorandum said the team detected serious lapses and irregularities in the decentralised purchase of paddy in Odisha during the current Kharif marketing season.
The window for paddy procurement operation was opened only for 40 to 43 days instead of available 151 days. The team found that a substantial number of allotted tokens had lapsed. Similarly, the quality control process was almost non-existent and the inspector, appointed on contract, generally filled up the parameters as per whims and fancies without actual analysis. The entire procurement process was found to be miller-driven.
The BJP MPs said the State government has allowed millers to perform all mandi operations such as the supply of used gunny bags, transportation of paddy, loading and other labour works. This is against the guidelines of the Centre, the team observed. The distribution of paddy among millers was not found to be transparent as it was at the discretion of the PACS secretary. The delegation urged Goyal to direct the State government to remove the shortcomings pointed out by the Central team and ensure all paddy stock of the farmers is purchased.