Telangana delegation to Delhi returns disappointed over Centre’s indecision on rice procurement issue

Published : November 25, 2021 14:50 IST

Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao (left) during a demonstration demanding the Indian government procure the entire paddy stock from the State, in Hyderabad on November 18. Photo: A. MAHESH KUMAR/AP

The Telangana government’s visit comes in the wake of a string of protests over the issue of paddy and parboiled rice procurement from the State.

A high-level delegation led by Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao was in Delhi to raise issues such as the imbroglio over the procurement of paddy grown in the State, the sharing of Krishna river waters between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh and issues pertaining to the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014. Chandrashekar Rao, who had camped for four days in Delhi since his arrival on November 21, was also seeking an audience with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

While Chandrashekar Rao was unable to meet either Modi or Shah, his three ministerial colleagues—Urban Development and IT Minister K. Taraka Rama Rao, Agriculture Minister S. Niranjan Reddy and Civil Supplies Minister Gangula Kamalakar—and senior officials did meet the Union Food and Public Distribution Minister Piyush Goyal and Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar.

The Telangana government’s visit comes in the wake of a string of protests over the issue of paddy and parboiled rice procurement from the State. While the Centre has, in no uncertain terms, reiterated that it will not buy parboiled rice grown in Telangana in the Yasangi (Rabi season), it has also remained tight-lipped on the exact quantity of paddy that it would procure. An angry Telangana government has said that the Centre’s stubborn stand on parboiled rice would, in the future, make “boiled rice” disappear from the State.

Chandrashekar Rao had even shot off a letter to the Prime Minister on November 17, reiterating his demand that the Centre come out with a clear paddy procurement policy and set annual targets for paddy procurement. The Chief Minister had demanded that the Food Corporation of India (FCI), the Union government agency tasked with procurement of grains, be directed to enhance its targeted procurement from 40 lakh tonnes of rice during the ongoing Kharif (Vaanakalam) 2021-22 season to 90 per cent of production, to complete the procurement of the balance 5 lakh tonnes of parboiled rice produced during the 2020-21 rabi (Yasangi) season and to confirm the procurement target for rice grown during the ensuing rabi season.

But the Centre appears unmoved. Piyush Goyal informed the delegation that the Centre would take a final decision on the quantity of paddy to be procured only after holding consultations with officials from the departments of agriculture and public distribution system (PDS).

But in a minor concession, the Union government assured the Telangana delegation that it would ensure there would be an enhancement in the paddy and rice procurement to some extent. And in another positive development, the Centre agreed with the suggestion mooted by Rama Rao that an annual target for paddy procurement should be set and announced. The Central government said that an annual target needed to be implemented across the country for all States and that the Centre would do so from next year.