The skyrocketing price of sugar in the open market has prompted the State Government to clamp enforcement measures against hoarders. The Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Department on Friday ordered raids on illegal hoarders across the State and warned them of stringent action.
It also directed the officials to strengthen the enforcement squad in a bid to check hoarding and black-marketing of sugar.
With sugar now selling at Rs 43 to Rs 45 a kg, the Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Minister Pratap Keshari Deb reviewed the situation. The scarcity of sugar is a nationwide phenomenon, thanks to the bad monsoon and drought-like situation which has affected sugarcane crops in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and other coastal states like Gujarat.
The Government said sugar availability situation in open market may have been tight but things are pretty much normal on public distribution system (PDS) front. While 80 per cent of total sugar is sold in the open market and only 20 per cent is circulated through the PDS. Odisha needs 8,750 metric tonne sugar a month which is distributed at Rs 13.50 per kg through PDS but the scarcity has not affected it.
The State is dependent on the Centre as well as other states for its sugar requirement. Deb said five per cent of the total requirement of sugar is produced in the State at Aska, Dhenkanal and Badamba, while the rest is imported from outside the State. The price of sugar depends on the Centre and the State Government has no role in it. Besides, the State also received the April quota of sugar this month.
Deb said the Government has also planned to set up three additional nodal points at Jajpur, Sundargarh and Balangir for off-loading of sugar to facilitate its smooth transportation through the Railways. Currently, there are five nodal points in Bhubaneswar, Rayagada, Bargarh, Berhampur and Balasore.
About the incident of people exhuming sugar which the railways had buried in Cuttack, the minister said the matter is being inquired by the Food Corporation of India which has asked the Railways for a report on it.
As per reports, two racks, carrying sugar, had missed the destination and by the time they reached the State, the consignment had gone bad. The Railways apparently buried the sugar and compensated the FCI. It was that sugar which some locals had exhumed but dumped it later as they found it to be bad in quality.
Deb also informed that the State Government has moved the FCI to lift surplus rice lying at its godown since the procurement season is drawing closer. At least 6 lakh metric tonne rice is awaiting procurement after the State met its requirements.
The minister said since procurement will start in four months, the godown space need to be cleared lest it will create problems for the farmers.