HYDERABAD: The chickens of rice millers seem to be coming home to roost. After the frontal attack by the TRS on the Centre on the latter’s reluctance to procure Rabi paddy, the BJP appears to be hitting back in its own style by asking the FCI to make inspections to force the TRS government into a defensive position. Apparently, under instructions from the Union Food Ministry, the FCI teams since Monday morning have been inspecting the rice mills in the State to check if the paddy that is committed to the FCI is physically available or not.
“If there is any discrepancy, we will blacklist such rice mills,” said an FCI source under the condition of anonymity. “As we are paying the MSP and also for gunny bags, we have a right to know if there is any mischief,” he added. The inspections are taking place interestingly after Union Minister Piyush Goyal, in a reply to BJP MP GVL Narasimha Rao, said that instances of malpractice in the procurement of paddy in Telangana have come to the notice, on physical verification of the stocks procured/stored during KMS 2020-21 and 2021-22.
The shortages in Rabi crop in KMS 20202-21 are 1,96,177 bags (7,847 tonnes in 21 rice mills) and shortages in Kharif crop in KMS 2021-22 are 2,57,719 bags (10,309 tonnes in 19 rice mills), a total shortage of 4,53,896 bags (18,156 tonnes in 40 rice mills).
The inspections of rice mills appear to be a direct fallout of the TRS government’s tiff with Union Minister Piyush Goyal. TRS leaders kept saying that whenever they met Goyal, he used to act in a cavalier manner. The pink party leaders were upset when Goyal asked them once if they had no work other than calling on him. On another occasion, he asked them to suggest to the people of Telangana to learn to eat broken rice when they informed that if Rabi paddy is converted into raw rice, they would end up with huge stocks of broken rice which has no demand.
Interestingly, TRS leaders including Civil Supplies Minister G Kamalakar are maintaining a studied silence. This is quite unlike them as they are used to pouncing on the Centre at the drop of a hat.
62 FCI teams conduct verification at 2,300 mills
In all, 62 teams have been constituted to conduct the physical verification of stocks in 2,300 rice mills. Each team consists of two officials from FCI and some officials from the district Civil Supplies office. However, extreme care was taken to ensure that verification was conducted in a fair manner. The officials from Nizamabad district were sent far away districts for verification. The officials of a district are not even deputed to their neighbouring district.“The situation is out of our hands now. The politicians are calling the shots,” official sources told Express.
According to sources in FCI, the inspection is to check if the paddy bags committed to the FIC are intact at the rice mills or not. For example, if a mill is allocated 100 bags of paddy and only 90 bags are found, then the particular mill will be blacklisted.
The sources recalled that the FCI conducted a similar verification in March this year. At that time only 900 rice mills put the paddy bags in a countable manner making the stock verification easier. “Around 2,300 mills did not place the bags in a countable manner. So, the FCI cannot check whether the stocks are tallying with the records or not. We have asked the Civil Supplies officials to direct the millers to put the stocks in a countable manner. In the present verification, if the stocks are not placed in a countable manner, then the mills will be blacklisted. The FCI will not procure rice from them,” sources in FCI said.
The State Civil Supplies officials registered a criminal case against a rice mill owner in Bodhan rural police station for selling the rice without permission. Now, the officials are continuing inspections in 200 rice mills, which did not hand over CMR stocks till date.
FCI officials inspected the rice mills in the erstwhile Warangal district on Monday. The FCI team collected the details of the paddy procurement so far and the status of rice stocks in the mills. Based on the information, 14 FCI teams are inspecting the rice mills and verification of stocks. Speaking to Express, Warangal District Rice Millers Association president Thota Sampath said that the Food Corporation of India(FCI) authorities stopped the purchase of rice from the rice millers. Now the FCI officials are inspecting the mills and checking the stock status of paddy and rice in the mills. “We can’t understand why FCI officials targeted rice mills and are looking at all of us like thieves just because of a few erring millers in the last season,” said Sampath.
The physical verification of stocks was conducted in rice mills in Karimnagar, Huzurabad, Manakondur, Peddapalli, Sircilla and other areas on Monday. The officials took photographs and inspected the stocks.
Centre to procure 2.6L tonnes of parboiled rice
After much political hullabaloo over the procurement of Rabi paddy, the Centre has finally decided to procure
2.6 lakh tonnes of parboiled rice from Telangana
According to FCI sources, the Centre took the decision after an initiative by Union Minister G Kishan Reddy
Sources also pointed out that the State govt too took proactive measures and drastically reduced the paddy cultivation area during Rabi