JEYPORE: With complaints of substandard PDS rice coming in from beneficiaries across Koraput, the district administration is now faced with the challenge of managing excess paddy procurement and preservation of old stock in godowns.
In the district, the State Civil Supplies department keeps custom milled rice in nine godowns across Jeypore, Kaliagaon, Borrigumma, Kotpad, Sunabeda, Koraput and Laxmipur. Official sources said these godowns have about 10.57 lakh quintal excess rice from last kharif. But with poor preservation and moisture due to rains, rice quality has deteriorated.
Last month, the district Civil Supplies department received complaints of discoloured and “plastic” rice at public distribution centres (PDS) in Kotpad, Boipariguda and Kundra blocks prompting the administration to seek a probe. On inspection, local marketing inspectors claimed that the PDS rice neither ‘ had traces of plastic nor was substandard. However, the grains were discoloured as the stock was old and ill-preserved.
While authorities admitted to the fact, they vouched for safe consumption of PDS rice and appealed people not to go by rumours. However, the issue seems to linger as just two days back, similar complaint of substandard rice under mid-day meal scheme was received from a primary school in Jeypore’s Dhanpur panchayat.
Generally, two teams - one from the Civil Supplies department and the other from Food Corporation of India - inspect paddy quality in godowns once in a month or two. But the teams have not come for the regular inspections due to the pandemic, leaving the task to local inspectors and godown staff.With repeated allegations and no tangible action by the administration yet, posers are being raised on preservation of rice in government-run godowns.
District civil supplies officer PK Panda ruled out substandard rice being distributed under PDS in the district. “Our procurement inspectors (PI) are checking the quality of rice in godowns regularly. There is no possibility of mixture of foreign materials in the grains which are only discoloured due to old stock,” he added.