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Pradeep Pattanayak

With parboiled rice row subsided, the Centre and Odisha government have now locked horns over the ratio at which rice and wheat are being allocated to the State. 

A letter shot off by Odisha Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Minister Ranendra Pratap Swain to Union Consumer Affairs and Food & Public Distribution Minister Piyush Goyal, demanding a revision in ratio of rice and wheat allocation under National Food Security Act, has kicked off the fresh row between the Centre and State. 

‘No wheat, only rice’ is the State’s demand, stated the letter. 

In the letter, it is mentioned that as per the National Food Security Act, Odisha has a total 3,26,41,800 beneficiaries. For them, the State is receiving 86 per cent rice and 14 per cent wheat from the Centre. Since the staple diet of Odisha people is rice, the distribution of wheat gives rise to disappointment among them. This apart, in rural areas people are experiencing lot of trouble for not having mills in their localities. 

The Centre is supplying only rice to states like Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Telengana, Chhattisgarh and Goa. Similarly, Rajasthan and Punjab are receiving only wheat. In case of Odisha, both rice and wheat are being supplied to the State. Minister Swain, in his letter, has alleged this as the Centre’s discrimination against Odisha. 

“The Centre has adopted double standards in allocating rice and wheat to Odisha. While only rice is being provided to Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Telengana, Chhattisgarh and Goa; Rajasthan and Punjab are getting only wheat. But when it comes to Odisha, they (the Centre) are giving 86 per cent rice and 14 percent wheat. Sometimes, more wheat is forced upon the State,” alleged Swain. 

Responding to the allegations, the State Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said the party (BJD) is only raising an accusing finger at the Centre. 
“The Centre is providing rice and wheat to the State as per the component the latter had demanded. The Centre has no problem at all to provide grains as the State will wish,” said senior BJP leader Manmohan Samal. 

“Have they (BJD) come out of deep slumber? They have been receiving the quota as per their demand. Neither the CM, nor the government is new for the State. They are well aware of it. They have a habit of blaming the Centre,” observed Samal. 

On the other hand, to find out the veracity of Minister Swain’s claim that beneficiaries are demanding only rice, OTV carried out a ground zero research. At places, the demand is for both rice and wheat and at other places; the demand is only for rice. 

“We are mostly labourers. Our main diet is rice as bread won’t provide the required strength to work. So we demand rice,” said a beneficiary of Jharsuguda, Golapi Pradhan. 

“If the distribution of wheat is stopped, we the diabetic ones will have problem. So both the grains should be provided,” said a beneficiary, Jyotikant Das. 

When asked, a dealer, Keshab Mahakud said most of his consumers demand rice. There are a few people who ask for wheat.

Earlier, the BJD government had written to the Centre over alleged non-lifting of parboiled rice by the FCI besides raising the issue in the Parliament. Now the buzz in the political corridor is that the ongoing fight between the Centre and State over the quota of rice and wheat will be more interesting in the coming days. 

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