Pradeep Pattanayak

Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Monday wrote a letter to Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Piyush Goyal, urging him to take steps to alleviate the fear and apprehension of the people of Odisha with respect to the PDS rice. 

Pradhan in his letter said, “There have been some distressing news reports in the media coming from Lamataput of Koraput, Sadar Block of Balasore and Badabahal of Sundergarh district of Odisha regarding fear and apprehension amongst the people about the supplied rice under PDS program.”

“The rice they are getting presently is different from the rice they used to get in PDS Shop earlier. They have reported that some of the rice kernels float when soaked in water and appear "very white" and "sticky" when cooked. When eaten, they don't have their usual taste and remain intact despite chewing. Rumours have been fuelled that this rice being "plastic rice" and are being supplied in PDS,” he said.  

“This has led to fear and apprehension regarding the PDS rice in the region, and many beneficiaries are worried that the rice will have an adverse impact on their health,” he added. 

“I am informed that a fortified rice which is a mix of fortified rice kernels (FRK) and normal rice is being given under the PDS since January for added nutrients like folic acid, iron and vitamin B-12. However, the texture and taste of this new rice might have created confusion and apprehension amongst the beneficiaries,” he further added. 

“It is imperative that such apprehensions be investigated and quelled in a proactive manner by the Civil Supplies Department.,” he requested. 

Pradhan requested the Minister to intervene and direct his officials to investigate the issues and apprehensions that the beneficiaries are having regarding the PDS rice and take suitable measures to spread awareness about the supply of fortified rice in PDS on an urgent basis.