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Odisha asks centre for more rice

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Bhubaneswar: As PDS beneficiaries prefer rice to wheat in Odisha, the State Government has asked the Centre to allocate rice equal to the State’s need under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).

Chief Secretary AP Padhi wrote a letter to Union Food and Public Distribution Secretary Ravikant in this regard on Tuesday.

Padhi argued that Odisha should be given more rice to meet the demand of beneficiaries. He mentioned that Odisha is a rice consuming State.

Since 2015 to 2017, the Union Government has been making provisions for more wheat despite repeated requests. However, the State Government has complied with the demand.

Now, there is a shortfall of around 1 lakh tonne of rice, which is posing a serious problem for the State Government.

As the Centre has not taken a reasonable approach in fixation of incidental charges, the State Government has not been able to pay such charges to millers. The incidental charges fixed for Kharif Marketing Season (KMS) 2017-18 is abnormally low and highly unreasonable.

Padhi pointed out that paddy procurement is in full swing and the State has so far procured 32.5 lakh tonnes of paddy and 7.5 lakh tonnes of rice from the millers. But the millers are now reluctant to participate in the paddy procurement for low incidental charges. For example, rates of transportation charges for paddy have been fixed at Rs4.65 per quintal for 2017-18 whereas during 2016-17 the rate was Rs 36.18 per quintal. With all costs increasing every year, practically it is not possible to transport at this abnormally low rate fixed by Government of India, Chief Secretary pointed out. Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Secretary V V Yadav pointed out that while Odisha is preparing for procurement of Rabi paddy in a few weeks’ times, it would be difficult for the State administration to persuade millers to participate in procurement process without payment of earlier dues and an enhanced incidental charge.

The Chief Secretary has urged the Union Secretary to finalise the accounts and fix reasonable incidental charges, which will facilitate smooth paddy procurement operations.

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