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Heavy paddy procurement: Chhattisgarh seeks NITI Aayog intervention on promoting bio-ethanol units

The state has demanded from the Centre to do away with the annual mandatory permission of the agriculture ministry for rice-based bio-ethanol production.

Published: 25th January 2020 02:06 PM  |   Last Updated: 25th January 2020 02:06 PM   |  A+A-

Chhattisgarh seeking NITI Aayog support, meeting its vice chairman Rajiv Kumar, to encourage bio-ethanol project. (Photo | EPS)

Express News Service

RAIPUR: Is the poll promise on procuring 85 lakh metric ton paddy likely to become a “liability and burden” for the Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh? Many believe so, as the Bhupesh Baghel government remains firm to comply with its pledge made to the paddy growers.

With the procurement gathered full pace and the stock of rice to cross the all-time level in Chhattisgarh this Kharif marketing season, now the state government is exploring not just to liquidate the possible overflowing granaries as storage might turn as a major challenge but also on utilising the remaining rice left after PDS and other welfare programme. 

The Centre has already refused Chhattisgarh to raise the annual procurement quota on paddy from 24 to 32 lakh metric ton for the state during the current Kharif year. The Congress government has promised to provide farmers Rs 2500 per quintal of paddy, which was also part of its manifesto.

The Chhattisgarh government has sent its state planning board vice-chairman Ajay Singh to seek cooperation from the NITI Aayog on rice-based bioethanol production units in the state from the surplus rice procured by it.

The state has demanded from the Centre to do away with the annual mandatory permission of the agriculture ministry for rice-based bio-ethanol production as per the National Bio-fuel policy-2018 calling it “impractical” and to ensure the rate for bio-ethanol produced be attractive enough.

“The two suggestions will encourage private investment in this sector. Vice-chairman NITI Aayog Rajiv Kumar has positively responded to our request”, the government spokesperson stated.

However, a senior BJP leader and former agriculture minister Brijmohan Agrawal opined that the Congress government which in an attempt to lure the farmers ahead of the polls has promised something that they are neither able to swallow nor able to let go.

“With higher government purchase this year, they are now in a fix over higher stocks beyond capacity and extended PDS benefits other than the poor and needy. And now thinking of bio-ethanol production plants. The Congress party should understand that everything is governed by the policy which remains uniform across the nation”, Agrawal told the Express.

The agriculture experts stated that it remains to be seen how the state government going to cope with the massive paddy procurement.

“First time the state has decided to give away rice under PDS to above poverty line (APL) families. The setting up of bio-ethanol units suggest the government might struggle to cope with the over rising fresh rice stocks”, said Uchit Sharma, a social activist.

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