Special Correspondent

Thiruvananthapuram: Grain merchants have warned the government that the State might face acute shortage of rice in the coming months if the latter fails to issue orders increasing the stock limit for rice held by traders.

In a memorandum to Food and Civil Supplies Minister C. Divakaran, Indian Union Muslim League MLA and the former minister V.K. Ebrahim Kunju said the order fixing the stock limit for rice held by traders issued in May had expired. The order had fixed the stock limit at 50,000 quintals. Merchants were afraid to hold excess stock and this might lead to a shortage of rice in the next few months, he said.

He said the loading permit would be closed on December 19 as a result of heavy procurement of rice by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) in Andhra Pradesh. The issue of permits would be resumed only in the first week of April next year. This might prevent arrivals from Andhra Pradesh.