Cannot defy MoU to aid Telangana, Odisha: Piyush Goyal on paddy crisis

New Delhi: Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, food and public distribution Piyush Goyal responded to Parliamentarians from Telangana and Odisha on the issue of paddy procurement saying that “Telangana and Odisha cannot be helped at the cost of other states”.

With paddy crop lying in the field and prediction of a cyclonic storm soon to hit the Odisha coast, leaders of Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) criticised the central government for not procuring its surplus grain grown by farmers.

Criticism of the Union government:

Raising the issue in the zero hours in Rajya Sabha on Friday, BJD leader Prasanna Charya said the central government has issued an order not to procure a “single grain” of parboiled rice from Odisha and other states like Telangana.

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MPs from Telangana’s TRS party, Keshava Reddy and K Suresh Reddy stated that it would be dangerous to wait until March to find out if the Union will procure paddy or not and as such, Minister Goyal has to respond about the status of procurement in the future rabi season.

MP Sasmit Patra from BJD stated that “Parboiled rice is mostly grown in Odisha and as such, one cannot be expected to consume raw rice all of a sudden. It would be helpful if the Centre instructed the Food Corporation of India (FCI) to procure excess rice.”

Union government responds:

However, Union minister Piyush Goyal responded to all the criticism levied by Telangana and Odisha ministers and stated that the Union cannot violate the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) the Centre has with all the states in the country. “The MoU’s clause 18 states that if any state overshoots the stocks of its rice, the excess stocks will be handed over to that state government itself,” he said.

“There is no need to bring up the issue over and over again. The Centre has never shied away from giving Telangana an extension. It has time and again helped Odisha as well. Telangana’s original target for parboiled rice was 45 lakh metric tonnes. They ended up supplying 28 lakh metric tonnes and are yet to give the rest. Why don’t they supply the rest before discussing the future?” he questioned.

Goyal further added that the Center cannot procure rice if it is not in the interest of other states. “We cannot force people of other states to eat parboiled rice just because it is grown in Odisha. If there isn’t a demand from other states, we cannot do much.”

(With agency inputs)

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