Raipur: Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of Commerce & Industry (2019-present), Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, after carrying out surprise inspection of Food Corporation of India (FCI) stocks in the capital city Raipur addressed a press conference on Friday and alleged, 65,701 metric tonnes of rice stock is missing in records since May 2023.
He accused the ruling Baghel government, of intentionally meddling in the records. They put weak monitoring over the functioning of fare price shops which run under the provisions of National Food Security Act, (NFSA) 2013 and Targeted Public Distribution System (Control) Order, 2015.
He also said, the Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel misguided the farmers in the context of paddy procurement.
Centre ready to procure more than 100 lakh quintals of rice
The reality is that the Centre Government is ready to procure more than 100 lakh quintals of rice, unfortunately, the CM misguided the farmers by putting them into the dark that centre government has reduced its quota to 61 lakh metric quintals of rice, Piyush Goyal said.
It is the Chhattisgarh government which misled the farmers, and the central government over paddy procurement. It urged the centre to fix the target quota of rice procurement 61 lakh metric tonnes last year and this year. At the same time, the Baghel government deposited only 53 lakh metric tonnes of rice in the central pool so far, the Union Minister said.
We asked the state government to fulfill the quota, last year and this year both and then ask for an increase in the central pool quota of rice. We are ready to procure whatever the amount Baghel government wants to deposit in the central pool, he said.
Goyal's attack on Congress Govt
The Congress government must stop defaming the Modi government, which is procuring paddy on MSP, he added. In nine years, the Modi government has increased the MSP of paddy by ₹800/ quintal.
The state government mentioned to us that this year less paddy will be procured as the production slumped than yester years as a result quota was reduced and number of jute bags sent accordingly, he clarified.
He also alleged that in the name of rice milling and paddy procurement huge quantities of rice stocks were missing. To investigate the scam, I have already instructed my officers, the Minister said.
65,000 lakh metric tonnes of irregularities in rice distribution
Meanwhile, a high level team of the Central government officers had inspected the fare price shops and found 65,000 lakh metric tonnes of irregularities in rice distribution through fair price shops. After these inspections, the State government suspended the licence of over 2000 fare price shops and cancelled the licence of 208 shops, he added.
Replying to a query on Chhattisgarh Congress government claims to procure paddy on its own money, the Union Minister categorically denied the claim of the State government and said that the Central government bears all expenses of the paddy procurement and even interest is paddy on loan.
Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel is aware that his party would lose the upcoming assembly elections and so he is misguiding the poor and farmers of the state. For this misdeed, Bhupesh Baghel must apologize, said Goyal.
MSP raised to ₹18,000 crore
The Central government has increased the minimum support price from ₹8,000 crore to ₹18,000 crore to Chhattisgarh in the last few years, he added.
The Union Minister ordered a high level inquiry at all rice mills of Chhattisgarh when he got information that only 54 kilogramme raw rice is manufactured from one quintal paddy in Chhattisgarh while average 67 kilogramme raw rice is produced in one quintal paddy in the country. The team of the Central government will inquire at the rice mills of the state about average raw rice production from one quintal paddy, he added.
Chairman-cum Managing Director Food Corporation of India Ashok Kumar Kaluaram Meena and other officials were also present in the press conference.
'Allegations have no base'
After Piyush Goyal press conference, Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel interacted with the media in Raipur and said, the Union Minister’s allegations were baseless and intentionally made to get political mileage in coming assembly elections.
Earlier also they sent a central officers team to investigate but all allegations remain baseless, CM Baghel said.