New Delhi: A day after BJD MPs met Union Minister Piyush Goyal demanding release of pending food subsidy dues of Rs 14,292 crore, BJP MPs from Odisha met Goyal alleging gross irregularities in procurement of paddy in the State.
A delegation of the BJP Parliamentarians led by Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan met the Union Food Minister and sought his intervention to deal with alleged corruption in paddy procurement and denial of MSP to farmers in Odisha.
In a memorandum to Shri Goyal, the leaders accused the State Government of scuttling paddy procurement and causing great distress to farmers.
They said the Centre’s attention was earlier drawn to corrupt practices prevalent in Regulated Markets Committees (RMC), Primary Agriculture Credit Societies (PACS) and Paddy Procurement Centres (PPCs) in Odisha. It was also corroborated in the report of the Central Team deputed to probe these issues.
Unfortunately, the Government of Odisha seems to have ignored the findings of the report as the same issues are yet again plaguing the paddy procurement process in the state of Odisha, said the MPs.
While the Kharif Marketing Season commences from October to facilitate smooth paddy procurement, mandis have not opened so far except for a few districts.
“In Odisha except for a few districts, Mandis have not opened till now even in 3rd week of December. This is severely curtailing the actual procurement window to 40-43 days against the official 151 days window creating panic among small and marginal farmers,” read the memorandum submitted by the MPs to Shri Goyal.
Noting that a restricted procurement period disables farmers from bringing their produce to the mandi for sale and generate income, the memorandum said a recent drone survey has pointed out that the harvesting has been completed in around 35% of the cultivated area.
However, mandis in most coastal districts have not been opened yet and the Odisha government is shifting the blame to District Level Paddy Procurement Committees (DLCP) in the name of decentralisation.
Ironically, these are indirectly controlled by representatives and officials of the Odisha Government, it said.
The MPS also alleged that the centralised token system for the paddy sale is being exploited by Secretary PACS/PPC to summon a farmer on a particular date to bring his Paddy for sale leading to favouritism and many tokens belonging to small and marginal farmers getting lapsed.
As mandis are not being opened at all in some RMCs, irregular lifting of rice at Mandi has created an additional issue of storage of the grains for farmers in open, they said.
Claiming that farmers are not getting MSP of Rs 1940/- per quintal due to cut in weight over FAQ, it said mandis are not maintaining separate register & accounts and surplus paddy is adjusted as FAQ and value is being misappropriated by those involved in the procurement system.
A nexus of millers and officials of the Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare department has made the paddy procurement automation system (P-PAS) a mockery by allowing unscrupulous traders farmers to snatch away the benefits from genuine registered farmers.
The MPs also said that if sources are to be believed, millers are not lifting stocks from the mandis as the Civil Supplies Officers (CSOs) have not issued miller authority slips. The millers are playing to the tunes of the CSOs who tag them to mandis and decide the quantum of paddy to be allocated for custom milling.
Unscrupulous traders and landless farmers /proxy farmers, who do not cultivate, in collusion with the members of PACS, have been siphoning the MSP of the government by getting tokens for paddy sale, alleged the memorandum, copy of which was released to the media.
This Kharif season around 5,54,679 acres of land has been identified as fake in the satellite survey for which proxy/non-farmers were eligible to receive MSP support to the tune of Rs 1715 crore, it alleged.
“We would like to request you for your personal intervention to resolve the issues on alleged mismanagement and corrupt practice in the State of Odisha in Paddy Procurement Operation which is continuing to persist till today despite recommendation & suggestion given by Government of India, resulting harassment to the poor farmers of the State,” it added.