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BJD MPs Call on Union Food Minister for Overdue Rice Subsidy of Rs 6,081 Crore

A delegation of Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MPs met Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Piyush Goyal in New Delhi yesterday and demanded the release of a pending subsidy of Rs 6,081.45 crore.

The MPs, including the party’s Rajya Sabha leader Prasanna Acharya, submitted a memorandum to Goyal and also raised the demand for early evacuation of surplus rice from Odisha and the gunny bags shortage issue. The Union Minister assured that he will do what is necessary, a BJD MP said.

The MPs, through the memorandum, said paddy/ rice procurement operations under the MSP programme is a task which is in the domain of the Centre. However, in order to extend the outreach of MSP to remote, far-flung and inaccessible areas, the Odisha government took over in 2003-04 the responsibility of procuring paddy from farmers in the state.

As per the MoU signed with the Centre, there has to be zero financial liability on the state government or state procuring agency. However, the release of advance subsidy to Odisha is irregular, they said.

“Odisha State Civil Supplies Corporation, the major procuring agency of the State Government, is to receive Rs 5,365.11 crore as provisional subsidy and advance subsidy of Rs 716.34 crore,” read the memo.

Moreover, the MPs said additional interest incurred because of delay in release and non-release of subsidy comes around Rs 4,883.55 crore which remains un-recouped and should be paid by Centre.

The delegation apprised the Union Minister about the failure of Food Corporation of India (FCI) to collect surplus rice from Odisha.

The MPs further said that failure to ensure timely evacuation of surplus rice from the state by the FCI has serious implications of choking godowns, of preventing timely receipt of rice from millers and being saddled with unwanted rice for which there will be no takers.

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