BJD Raises Five Demands before Centre in Interest of Odisha Farmers

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Bhubaneswar: The ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has raised several issues of farmer’s interest and agriculture in Odisha today and placed various demands for the development of the farmers and their livelihood in Odisha before the Centre.

First, the MSP of Paddy should be increased to Rs. 2930 per quintal as per the unanimous resolution of the Odisha Vidhan Sabha in 2017.  Secondly, the MSP of Paddy should be increased by 1.5 times the C2 value as per the Swaminathan Commission report recommendations. Thirdly, the surplus parboiled rice of Odisha should be lifted immediately which would otherwise cause great hardship to the lakhs of farmers of Odisha and particularly from western Odisha. Fourthly, Rs. 10,333 crores of food subsidy bill pending with Centre should be immediately released to Odisha and fifth and finally, Rs. 5454.67 Crores towards additional interest incurred by Odisha due to delay of release and short release of subsidy by Centre till March 31, 2022, should be released immediately.

Addressing a press meet today, BJD National Spokesperson Dr Sasmit Patra said that the Centre had increased the MSP of the common grade variety of paddy yesterday by Rs. 100 per quintal, Rs. 1940 in 2021-22 to Rs. 2040 per quintal for 2022-23 crop years for common variety.

Dr Patra reiterated that this increase of merely Rs. 100 per quintal is not sufficient and the BJD has been demanding for increasing the MSP for paddy to 1.5 times the Cost of Production at C2 value; as per the Swaminathan Commission Report recommendations but the Centre has not done it so far.

Dr Patra further stated that on 25th March 2017, the Odisha Vidhan Sabha had unanimously passed a resolution recommending that the MSP of common paddy be increased to Rs 2930 per quintal. All MLAs including those from BJP, Congress and BJD had unanimously supported this. But even after five years of the passage of this resolution and numerous demands in this regard placed by the BJD MPs in the Parliament as well as in the Odisha Vidhan Sabha, the Centre has not implemented it, he asserted.

Apart from the issue of increasing the MSP of paddy to Rs. 2930 per quintal, the Centre has also decided to stop lifting surplus parboiled rice from Odisha. Most of the rice produced in Odisha is par-boiled rice and is one of the leading states contributing to the PDS rice in the nation. The Centre’s decision to stop lifting surplus par-boiled rice will adversely affect lakhs of farmers of Odisha and that too from the western Odisha majorly, the BJD Rajya Sabha Dr Sasmit Patra.

He said that in the 2021-22 Kharif Marketing Season (KMS), out of 52 lakh tonnes of procurement of rice, the State’s consumption will be about 39 lakh tonnes under the public distribution system (PDS) and other welfare schemes. The State is likely to have a surplus of 13 lakh tonnes of rice which should be lifted immediately for smooth procurement operation. But the Centre is silent on this matter. In addition, the State government has taken all necessary steps to deliver five lakh tonnes of fortified parboiled rice to FCI as per the target given by the Department of Food and Public Distribution (DFPD) in the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.

The State is in a position to deliver a higher quantity of fortified parboiled rice and DFPD has been requested to give an additional target of fortified parboiled rice during KMS 2021-22. But the Centre has not notified the State of the higher quantity target so far.

Dr Patra stated that the Odisha Government had demanded the release of the Rs 10,334 crore food subsidy bill. Despite the State demanding that the Centre release the money immediately to bail out the State paddy procuring agency from financial stress, no action has been taken in this regard by the Centre. The Odisha State Civil Supplies Corporation, the designated agency for procurement of paddy for the State government, is to yet receive Rs 7,931.90 crore as provisional subsidy and advance subsidy of Rs 2,402.19 crore taking the total subsidy claim to Rs 10,334 crore by the end of April 2022.

Further, the additional interest incurred till March 31, 2022, because of delay in release and short release of subsidy comes to around Rs 5,454.67 crore which remains unrecouped. The Centre should pay the interest component failing which the State will bear the additional cost. But the Centre has not taken any action in this regard as well, he asserted.

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