Intelligence without morality is dangerous
K. Chandrashekar Rao (KCR), Telangana Chief Minister, is an erudite politician who has mastered the art of telling lies & blaming others for his failures in a very confident and loud way. He is not worried about the consequences of such actions. The actions of KCR are solely responsible for the plight of farmers and the hassles in paddy procurement in Telangana today. He is now falsely blaming center for the situation.
Decentralized Procurement System (DPS)
Several states like Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Haryana, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh have decentralized Procurement System for the procurement and distribution of rice for the Public Distribution System (PDS). The state government has to procure paddy from farmers through Civil Supplies Corporation and state government agencies. Farmers have to be paid within 7 to 10 days. The paddy purchased from farmers has to be then processed in the mills. The excess stocks of custom-made rice (CMR) from the state shall be procured by FCI as per the laid down principles and the amount reimbursed to states by FCI. The government of India shall reimburse the total expenditure incurred by the state government on procurement, storage, distribution, Minimum Support Price (MSP), society commission, administrative charges, mandi labour charges, transportation charges, custody charges, maintenance charges, gunny charges, milling charges & statutory taxes as per laid principles.
Paddy procurement in Telangana
The procurement of paddy from Telangana has increased massively over the past seven years in the tenure of Narendra Modi as PM.
Amount spent for paddy procurement in combined AP for 2013-2014 was Rs.3404 crores. Amount spent for paddy procurement in Telangana for the year 201-22 was Rs. 26,6641 crores–the third highest in the country, benefitting 21.61 lakh farmers.
Data shows that procurement of paddy by centre increased drastically from 35.96 Lakh metric tons (69.5% of total production) in 2016-17 to 94.45 lakh metric tons (122.78% of total production) in 2020-21.
The facts about the problem
Telangana is a surplus parboiled producing region that does not consume para boiled rice but delivers to FCI. In Telangana, paddy procured was being processed into parboiled rice and raw rice. 100 kg of paddy will yield 68 kg of parboiled rice and 67 kg of raw rice.
Parboiled rice is consumed across some areas in states like Kerala, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu, where parboiled rice production has increased. Only 20 LMT of parboiled rice is consumed from the FCI pool. Due to increased production and less demand stocks of para boiled rice have increased and pooled to a quantity sufficient for 3-4 years by December 2020.
0n 22-12-2020 FCI, via letter dated 23-12-2020, advised the State governments of Telangana and Odisha to give maximum delivery of raw rice to FCI and try to limit acceptance of para boiled rice to the extent of 50% of Kharif crop 2020-21. It also very clearly stated that FCI would not accept any surplus in the form of para boiled rice during the rabi season of 2020-21.
On 30-12-2020, FCI requested the Government of India (GOI) to take up the matter with state governments of surplus DCP states viz Odisha, Telangana and Chhattisgarh to curtail the delivery of par-boiled rice to FCI.
The ministry on 27-5-2021 allowed the Government of Telangana to deliver 24.75 LMT, i.e., 50% of surplus parboiled rice to FCI against the Rabi crop of 2020-21. GOI vide letter dated 26-8-2021 informed Telangana govt that FCI will not be able to accept any excess of para boiled rice other than the already approved 24.75 LMT.
During the Food secretaries meeting on 17-08-2021, it was informed to all states that parboiled rice would not be accepted from any state by FCI.
On 30-09-2021, on persistent request of Govt of Telangana & CM of Telangana, GOI approved the delivery of 20 LMT of parboiled rice to FCI and already approved 24.75 LMT.
State Government of Telangana gave a commitment in writing vide letter dated 04-10-2021 as below
- The state government shall deliver no para boiled rice to FCI in future.
- The state shall ensure the establishment of rice bran oil manufacture facilities and fortification of rice in mills.
- The state shall take measures to properly store and deliver quality food grains as required by GOI.
The irresponsible actions of the KCR government
The KCR government did not ensure apt and timely measures for paddy procurement from farmers at Paddy purchase centres (PPCs). Out of 6500 PPCs run by the state government, only 350 were opened by November 2021, and Farmers were given tokens on a first-come-first-served basis. Farmers had to wait for a long time, and a farmer died while waiting.
GOI has extended six times time for delivery of rice to FCI for the years 2020-2021 from September 2021 to 30-04-2022. KCR government has failed to deliver 7.78 MLT rice (including 1.34 LMT para boiled rice) of rabi crop of 2020-21 to FCI as of 31-3-2022.
During the food secretaries meeting on 25-02-2021, Govt of Telangana did not propose any procurement estimates of rice for the rabi crop of 2021-2022 and did not reply to the proposals asked by GOI for the same till now.
The real questions
Why is KCR not procuring paddy from farmers?
Why is KCR not interested in converting paddy to raw rice, which shall be purchased by FCI as per the agreement he signed?
Why is only Telangana having a problem with procuring paddy from farmers?
Why is Telangana insisting on converting paddy into parboiled rice, which is not consumed in Telangana and 95% of states?
Why KCR was silent one and half year back in December 2020 when FCI took a policy to not procure parboiled rice from any state across India?
Why is no other state having a problem with paddy procurement or insisting on taking parboiled rice?
Why does only Telangana cites geographical issues for converting paddy to parboiled rice while neighbouring states of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Maharashtra do not cite?
Why Telangana only wants to convert paddy to parboiled rice due to high temperatures when states with higher temperatures like Tamil Nadu or Odisha or Kerala, or Andhra Pradesh do not convert?
Why did the KCR government not take any measures to convert paddy to raw rice since one and a half year after getting informed by FCI about the same?
Why did KCR sign the agreement that his government would not deliver any more parboiled rice to FCI?
Why did KCR not deliver the pending due quantity of rice to FCI for rabi 2020-2021 as of 31-2022?
Why did KCR not send estimates for rice procurement for 2021-2022?
Politics over paddy
A glance at events shows that the present scenario is a deliberately crafted sequence by KCR. BJP has gained strength in Telangana. BJP has emerged as a principal opponent to TRS after the outstanding performance of recent GHMC, Dubbaka and Hujurabaad elections. Dynast family TRS government has transformed Telangana from a state of surplus budget to a debt trap state. Total loans mount to nearly 3.91 lakh crores by 2022. KCR government is unable to give salaries to government employees on time. KCR is a master of lies. He lied that he would make Dalit a CM. He lied that TRS would not have an alliance with AIMM in GHMC elections. He lied over electricity reforms, the Dalitha Bandhu scheme and three-bedroom houses for the poor. KCR demanding to change the constitution shows his arrogance.
This time KCR lied over paddy procurement, with the main reasons being
- KCR did not have a vision for paddy procurement
- The debt-ridden KCR government does not want to spend meagre financial resources on farmers
- KCR wants to shift the blame on the centre to malign BJP
Center stands committed to procuring entire excess stocks in the form of raw rice from Telangana in both rabi and Kharif seasons as per MOU. KCR is insisting on procuring para boiled rice. The sequence of events clearly shows the hypocrisy of the KCR government. KCR is the sole creator of the problem, which can be cleared if he stands by his words and delivers raw rice to FCI.
“The most serious failure of leadership is the failure to foresee.”
(The writer is a State Executive Committee Member, State Media Panelist and State In charge- Policy & Research, BJP AP)