Punjab food minister requests Centre to ask FCI to accept rice delivery

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Chandigarh, Jun 9 (PTI) Punjab Food Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu has urged Union Minister Piyush Goyal to direct the FCI to accept delivery of rice, and also expressed fear of huge losses if the delivery is not completed at the earliest.

In his letter to Goyal, the minister said various rice mill associations had brought to his notice that the Food Corporation of India (FCI) had completely stopped taking any delivery of custom-milled rice for the past one week.

The Corporation was citing the directions of the Department of Food and Public Distribution, Government of India, to conduct physical verification of stocks of rice mills as the reason, Ashu added.

Punjab, which is known as foodbowl of the country, is yet to deliver around 20 lakh tonnes out of 134 lakh tonnes of rice to the Centre for the 2020-21 season, said a senior official of the Punjab food and civil supplies department on Wednesday.

The official said that every year, the Centre extends the last date, which is March 31, for the delivery of rice because of the shortage of space and slow movement of stocks by central procurement agency FCI.

This year also, it extended the last date till June 30 but with a rider, in which it directed the FCI to carry out physical verification of the stock of rice mills in the state, said the official.

With the FCI officials getting busy in physical verification of stocks of around 4,000 rice mills in Punjab, they stopped accepting the delivery of rice, he further said.

In the letter to the Union food and public distribution minister, Ashu also said: 'Huge stocks of paddy and undelivered rice are lying in rice mills of Punjab due to shortage of space and slow movement of stocks by FCI in the past few months.' He added that due to shelf life of paddy being only six months, 'we may incur losses owing to deterioration in quality of rice of milling process and if delivery of rice is not completed at the earliest'.

The state minister wrote, 'I would thus request to issue suitable directions to FCI to simultaneously start taking delivery of rice wherever permissible so that we may be saved of an unsavoury situation in near future.' The official of the punjab food and civil supplies department said they have also taken up the issue with the FCI to resolve it. PTI CHS VSD HRS hrs

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