ROURKELA: Even as procurement is yet to pick up pace in the tribal-dominated Sundargarh district, reports of unscrupulous elements recycling paddy purchased at distressed rate to get the minimum support price (MSP) have become a headache for the administration.
While the administration has initiated preemptive action in some cases, it is seemingly grappling to trace and weed out persons involved in the illegal practice in absence of any effective mechanism. Sources said middlemen and rural traders with help of unscrupulous officials of Civil Supplies and Revenue departments besides large and multi-purpose cooperative societies (LAMPS) have managed to generate tokens in the name of farmers.
Last week, district Kisan Congress president Chakradhar Mahato had submitted a memorandum to the district Collector demanding inquiry into the allegations and exemplary action against those involved in duping the government and depriving genuine farmers from selling their paddy at MSP.
He claimed that the illegal practice is rampant in Lathikata, Nuagaon, Bisra and Kuanrmunda blocks of Panposh sub-division. Unscrupulous traders and middlemen are purchasing paddy from small farmers and adjacent pockets of Jharkhand for Rs 1,000-Rs 1,100 per quintal and indirectly selling the stock at mandis for the MSP of Rs 1,940.
Sundargarh Civil Supplies Officer (CSO) BC Mangaraj said in the last fortnight, raids were conducted at four godowns in Kuanrmunda, Nuagaon, Bisra and Lefpripada blocks leading to seizure of around 176 quintal paddy purchased at distressed prices. He claimed that a robust system is in place to check the illegal practice.
During registration, farmers have to submit land records and Aadhaar details while field verification is being carried out. Besides, satellite imagery is being used to compare land holding and actual paddy production of farmers to assess surplus paddy for sale, the CSO added.
Last year, reselling of low-cost paddy at Tasladihi mandi in Tangarpali block had come to the fore. Deputy registrar of cooperative societies Rashmilata Behera said that this year, Tasladihi paddy purchasing centre has been barred from the procurement process. Behera claimed that so far, no complaint has been received about the illegal practice of reselling distressed paddy for MSP.
Since procurement started on December 15, around 1.20 lakh quintal paddy of the first phase target of 18.27 lakh quintal has been purchased so far.