“Rice millers forced to lift paddy”

Koraput: The rice millers’ association in Koraput district of Odisha has alleged that it is being forced by officials to lift paddy under custom milling without quality analysis at procurement centres in ongoing kharif marketing season (KMS).

The association feared it may not be able to provide quality rice to the government after custom milling as it is forced to accept non-fair average quality (non-FAQ) paddy.

“The government has set guidelines to procure FAQ paddy, but quality check is not done at mandis. When we are being forced by officials to accept non-FAQ paddy then how can we deliver FAQ rice and targeted quantity fixed by the government,” questioned president of the association Purna Chandra Patnaik.

According to the association, officials forced it to accept non-FAQ paddy, citing that refusal to procure inferior quality paddy may lead to law and order situation at mandis.

In this regard, the association has submitted a memorandum to commissioner-cum-secretary, food supplies and consumer welfare department, and a copy to the district administration, demanding examination of quality of paddy procured and stocked at various mills.

“We urged the state government to send a team of experts to check quality of paddy, which we have received from procurement agencies. Though over 12 lakh quintal of paddy have been procured in the district during the KMS not a single bag of non-FAQ paddy has been found as quality check is not being done,” said secretary of the association Gopal Panda.

Admitting that quality check of paddy is not being done at mandis due to lack of adequate infrastructure, a senior official of the civil supplies department said it’s the duty of regulated market committee (RMC) to analyse the quality of paddy at mandis.

Secretary, RMC (Jeypore), U C Samantaray said, “It’s not possible to check the quality of entire procured paddy at mandis. Random checking of paddy bags is being done to analyse quality.”

However, he maintained silence when asked as how many quintals of non-FAQ paddy have been identified during the KMS.

Till Monday, the administration had given a total of 12,50,000 quintal of paddy to millers under custom milling, official sources said.