Telangana CM K. Chandrashekar Rao writes to PM Narendra Modi on paddy procurement imbroglio, criticises FCI’s ad hocism

Published : November 17, 2021 20:47 IST

Telangana CM K. Chandrashekar Rao (left) with Union Minister Piyush Goyal. Photo: PTI

The ongoing imbroglio between the Telangana government and the Centre over the latter’s decision not to procure parboiled rice from the State took another turn on November 17 with the Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao writing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterating his demand that the Centre come out with a clear paddy procurement policy and set annual targets for procurement. The Food Corporation of India (FCI), the Central agency tasked with procurement of grains, maintaining buffer stocks, and supplying rice and wheat through the public distribution system, had decided that it would restrict paddy procurement from Telangana for the present Kharif season because of a surfeit of supplies and limited consumption.

In his letter, the Chief Minister demanded that the FCI be directed, akin to what is happening in the case of Punjab, to enhance its procurement target for rice from the stated 40 lakh tonnes during the ongoing Kharif 2021-22 season to 90 per cent of production. Chandrashekar Rao also sought Modi’s intervention in directing the FCI to complete the procurement of the balance 5 lakh tonnes produced during the 2020-21 Rabi season.

Chandrashekar Rao accused the FCI of not fixing the annual procurement target in the beginning itself and thereby creating confusion in the minds of farmers and for State governments. This, according to Chandrashekar Rao, was preventing State governments from formulating an appropriate cropping pattern and explaining the same to their farmers.

Citing as an example the procurement of rice from Telangana during the 2020-21 Kharif season, which at 32.66 lakh tonnes was only 59 per cent of the total 55.75 lakh tonnes produced, and even less than what was procured in the previous Kharif season, the Chief Minister wrote, “Such wide variations in procurement levels (did) not allow the State to implement a rational cropping pattern.”

Soliciting “early action on these issues”, he said that in September he had personally met Piyush Goyal, Minister for Food and Public Distribution, and requested that the annual procurement target be fixed immediately. However, even after 50 days of that meeting, no policy decision had been taken or communicated to the State, the Chief Minister noted in his letter to Modi.

It has also been reported that farmers have been resorting to a distress sale of their produce. The impasse has already resulted in the deaths of two Telangana farmers in recent days. While one farmer is said to have died of a stroke when he was waiting at a procurement centre, another allegedly killed himself when he found no takers for his produce.

There have been protests across the State by both farmers and politicians, with the Chief Minister himself calling on his party leaders, Cabinet colleagues, legislators, and Members of Parliament to sit in a dharna. The Chief Minister’s Telangana Rashtra Samithi has planned another round of protests on November 18.

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