Odisha lifting more rice under NFSA than stipulated: Centre

Bhubaneswar: While Odisha is demanding an increase in the Rice Quota under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), the Central government has thrown a spanner saying Odihsa is already overusing its Rice quota. The Union Food and Public Distribution ministry has sent a letter to the State government highlighting how Odisha has been overusing its stipulated rice quota despite restriction from Food Corporation of India (FCI).

As per the letter sent on May 13, 2016, the Food & Public Distribution ministry has highlighted that Odisha government has lifted 4244.242 tonnes more rice between November 2015 and February 2016. Citing such discrepancy, the Centre has directed the State government to adjust the additional quantity of rice lifted. Moreover, the central government has asked the State government to adhere to the terms and conditions of the State-Centre MoU.

As per the MoU, the State government is getting 78% rice and 22% wheat.

Notably, Union Food and Public Distribution Minister Ram Vilas Paswan had assured in the presence of Union Petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan that the State’s demand of higher rice quota will be implemented in June 2016. In such a scenario, the central government’s notice that the State government is already drawing more rice as per existing 78:22 quota split raises serious doubts.

“The Union minister’s assurance and the letter that was sent on May 13 contradict each other. There is a need for a clarification on this matter. We will protest and if need arises we will take our protests to Delhi,” said BJD spokesperson Pratap Deb.

Earlier, the ruling BJD had held a state-wide stir demanding higher quota of rice under the NFSA for the state. BJD MPs also met Paswan in New Delhi demanding a higher rice quota. On the other hand, Union Petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan also met Paswan in this regard.

Meanwhile, BJP has said that the demand for higher rice quota should not be linked to the letter sent from the Centre.

“It is a formal letter, which highlights what the State government had done till February 2016. Hence, I would say that there is no link between the letter and the subsequent decision taken by the Central government,” said BJP leader Prithwiraj Harichandan.

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