Protest against government’s move on levy procurement for Anna Bhagya scheme
Rice mills across the State will shut indefinitely from Monday in protest against the State Cabinet’s decision to procure 5 lakh tonnes of levy rice before March 31 next to meet the requirements of the Anna Bhagya scheme.
Karnataka State Rice Millers’ Association working president N.R. Vishwaradhya told presspersons here on Saturday that the government used to procure an average of about 1.25 lakh tonnes of rice annually so far, and the sudden hike in quantum was “flawed and unreasonable.”‘Unscientific’
He said that while the government had fixed a “temporary” target of 5 lakh tonnes till March, the total quantum a year would work out to 13.5 lakh tonnes. The price fixed for procurement, Rs. 2,400 a quintal, was also “unscientific”, he claimed.‘Erroneous assumption’
Association secretary N. Srinivas Rao argued that the quantum fixed was based on the “erroneous assumption” that Karnataka produces 54 lakh tonnes of rice a year, while the actual production was between 15 lakh tonnes and 20 lakh tonnes a year when there are two crops. “This, in effect, means that we will have to run mills exclusively to provide levy rice to the government,” he added. Mr. Rao said there were also flaws in calculating running costs, such as the quantum of electricity required.Unilateral decision
Association treasurer Kogundi Bakkeshappa said the government had taken the decision on pricing and quantum unilaterally, ignoring the pleas of millers to hold consultations before arriving at a decision.
“We met the government 28 times in the last three months, but the government did not have the courtesy to even talk to us,” he said.
The association has put forward a set of six demands, which also includes relaxation in the stock limits set by the government for mills and exemption for Sona Masuri variety of rice from the levy regime.