Minister for Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs D.N. Jeevaraj on Monday urged the Union government to ban export of Sona Masuri premium quality rice to curb the steep rise in prices, now hovering between Rs. 50 and Rs. 57, depending on the quality.

Admitting the price rise of the middle-class staple, Mr. Jeevaraj told the media it has had a cascading effect on other rice varieties too. He said there was a gap between demand and supply, and rice mill owners obtained the licence to stock the cereal in accordance with the Union government’s December 20, 2012 order.

This being the case, the State government could do little as this was a national policy.

However, his department had directed deputy commissioners to take suitable action if they came across rice mills hoarding Sona Masuri rice. The government had no powers to check inter-State movement of paddy or rice.

Mr. Jeevaraj said he would consult Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar on the measures his department should take. He observed that the drought had also contributed to the rising price.

Asked what the consumption of rice in the State was, he said it was about 2 lakh quintals through the public distribution system (PDS) while was no data about the rice sold by private shops.

Biometric scales

He appealed to all the 36,41,718 above poverty line (APL) cardholders to buy their quota of foodgrains and other items from fair price (FP) shops as it helped the department track the commodities’ movement. Some 1,200 of the proposed 6,000 biometric automatic scales in the FP shops were providing correct information about the commodities sold.

‘Shop owners reluctant’

Principal Secretary B.A. Harish Gowda said there was reluctance on the part of shop owners to install the scales. Citing the case of a fair price shop in Police Colony of Mysore Road in the city, he said his computer recorded that some 500 card-holders had taken their quota, while another 500 didn’t. But previously, the man owner used to claim that some 85 per cent of the foodgrains had been sold. But now, details of sales are recorded online immediately after the bills are raised.

Scales across the State

Mr. Jeevaraj said such scales would be installed in Dharwad, Raichur and Mysore districts by February-end and extended across the State in the next five months. Card-holders who refused to give their biometric thumbprint could be deemed bogus, he added.

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