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HARYANA-Movement of grains stopped

November 21, 2019 05:32 AM

COURTESY HT NOV 21Movement of grains stopped
Fictitious paddy purchase Mandi authorities told that not a single grain of non-Basmati varieties should enter the rice mill until verification is completed
Neeraj Mohan

Karnal : Two days after the issue of fictitious purchase of paddy by rice millers overshadowed the proceedings during a cabinet meeting of the BJP-JJP government, the movement of paddy grain was stopped in paddy growing districts. Also, mandi authorities were told that not a single grain of non-Basmati varieties should enter the rice mill premises until the verification process was completed. The deputy commissioners have formed teams for the physical verification of the entire stock and inspection of records of non-Basmati paddy procured by the rice mills across the state.

The inspection teams comprise the district food and supplies controllers, tehsildars, district managers of Hafed, district managers of Haryana Warehousing Corporation and local officials of Food Corporation of India. The entire verification of stock and records will be videographed, officials said. Police have been deployed at the rice mills’ entry points. Karnal deputy commissioner Vinay Pratap Singh said the process of inspections is going on and will continue for some days and outcome will be given once the inspections get over.

Rice millers in Haryana were making a kill through the fictitious purchase of paddy. The matter was detected after the ongoing paddy procurement touched 64 lakh metric tonnes (LMT), exceeding the procurement target of 54 LMT set by the government. The total paddy production is expected to be about 60 LMT out of which non-Basmati variety will be 36 LMT, according to agriculture department estimates. Milling is an important stage in post-production of rice to remove the husk and produce edible white rice kernel.

Rip-off in Karnal and Kurukshetra

Karnal, from where chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar was successively elected for a second term, is the worst affected district as far the rip-off is concerned. With a geographical area about 2,520 square kilometers, 16.81 lakh metric tonnes of paddy has been procured in Karnal district. The average paddy production is about 25 quintal per acre and in some districts, the production is on the higher side of about 30 quintal per acre. Going by the 25 quintal per acre productivity, an area of 2,689 square kilometre would be required in Karnal for such productivity.

The geographical area includes other infrastructure besides the farms. Similarly, the geographical area of Kurukshetra district is about 1,530 square kilometres where 11.40 LMT paddy has been procured. Going by the 25 quintal per acre productivity norm, an area of about 1,825 square kilometre would be required for such output.

Panipat DC Sumedha Kataria said though they were conducting physical verification of stocks, there were no reports of irregularities. However, she said, the verification will start soon.

On the other hand, members of the Haryana rice millers association held a meeting in Kurukshetra and said that they were ready for the physical verification of their stocks and records. They assured the government that they will cooperate with the inspection teams but demanded that the police officials should not be part the inspection teams.

Action remains a tough ask

The stakeholders involved in paddy procurement are skeptical about the government’s move to take action against the erring rice millers. Some ground-level officials of Haryana State Agriculture Marketing Board told HT that the rice millers and commission agents have a strong lobby. “The possibility of irregularities in procurement cannot be ruled out as paddy procurement has already exceeded the procurement target, but taking action against them remains a tough task,” they said.

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