Staff Correspondent

Conference on November 6 to discuss issue

Government will collect 2.5 lakh tonnes of rice as levy

Owners say they will incur huge losses if such huge quantity is collected

Davangere: The Karnataka State Rice Mill Owners’ Association has opposed the State Government’s decision to collect 2.5 lakh tonnes of rice as levy this year. Calling it an abnormal increase, the association vice-president B.M. Nanjaiah said that rice owners would have to incur huge losses due to this. Instead of giving such a huge quantity of rice as levy, rice mill owners would prefer closing down their units, Mr. Nanjaiah added.

The State Rice Mill Owners’ conference would be held in Bangalore on November 6 near Legislators’ House and participants would impress upon the Government to limit the levy to one lakh tonne. If the Government failed to concede their demand, the rice mill owners had no other way but to close their units, he said.

Mr. Nanjaiah and secretary Kogundi Bakkeshappa told presspersons that the State was collecting one lakh tonne of rice as levy and increasing it to 2.5 lakh tonnes was unfair and unreasonable.

Mr Nanjaiah said that there were about 18,000 rice mills, of which 500 had been modernised at a cost of a few crores of rupees.

Paddy was grown in over 8 lakh acres of land, 20 lakh tonnes of paddy was expected to be produced of which 8 lakh tonnes of paddy was non-levy paddy, he informed.

The mill owners would incur a loss of Rs. 20, 000 for hulling 100 quintals of paddy if they were to give levy as per the new Government order and the total loss likely to be incurred would be up to Rs. 500 crore. Instead of sustaining such a huge loss, the rice mills could repay the loan availed for modernisation and keep quiet, Mr. Nanjaiah said. There was no logic in enhancing the levy, he said adding that if the Government was committed to providing subsidised rice to poor people, the Government should procure rice at a reasonable price and fulfil its promise rather than harassing mill owners.

The Government has also ordered not to stock over 3,000 quintals of paddy in each rice mill. Mr. Nanjaiah noted that such a small quantity would not be sufficient hulling for two days. By issuing such an order, the Government was indirectly threatening the mill owners. Even in Chennai, Kerala, Punjab and Haryana, such a huge levy of rice was not collected, he added.

N.M. Kadekoppa, Mathihalli Veeranna, Chandranna, Anil Kumar, Prabhanna, other office-bearers of the association were present.