CM Bhupesh Baghel intervenes as his ministers pushed on backfoot

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Chhattisgarh Food and Civil Supplies Minister Amarjeet Bhagat along with other ministers of the ruling Congress government were pushed on the backfoot by main Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on paddy issue, prompting Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel to intervene.

During Question Hour of the House, BJP MLA Ajay Chandrakar asked about custom milling of rice and quantity of rice yet to be deposited to the State and central agencies such as Chhattisgarh Civil Supplies Corporation and Food Corporation of India (FCI).

Bhagat said in his reply that a total of 94 lakh metric tonnes of paddy has been procured this season. Custom milling is in process. In central pool, set Usna paddy target is much higher than expectations while milling capacity is much lower in comparison to set target.

Custom milling of 3 lakh 44 thousand metric tonnes of paddy is yet to be done for the year 2019-2020. As December 31, 2020 was the last date for the deposit of rice in the Central Pool, so it will now be supplied to the Chhattisgarh Civil Supplies Corporation.

BJP MLA Shivratan Sharma said that minister Bhagat is blaming Centre for delay in granting permission to deposit in the central pool. The Minister should inform the date of centre’s permission to House.

On it, Bhagat said that the Central government extended the date four times for several reasons such as Corona.

Bhagat further said that 28 lakh metric tonnes of paddy was to be deposited in the central pool but only 26 lakh metric tonnes of paddy could be deposited due to adverse situation created by Corona. Leader of Opposition Dharamlal Kaushik said that the Minister is giving a wrong answer in the House. He demanded that a committee of the House should investigate the matter.

More than 3 lakh metric tons of paddy has rotten in the state, said the Leader of Opposition, adding Rs 1000 crore loss was incurred to the state government in this way.

Bhagat said that Centre should have given permission in September instead of December. On it, Kaushik said that the minister is misleading the House. If permission of Centre was received in December then how did 21 lakh metric tonnes of rice got stored in the central pool in the month of September.

Minister Md Akbar intervened and said that if there is any untruth in the reply given by minister Bhagat, then there is a separate procedure for investigation.

After observing the proceedings for more than half an hour and seeing his minister facing verbal attack from Opposition, Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel stood up to say this is a serious issue. The state is worried. “When we decided to buy paddy for Rs 2500 per quintal, the Center did not give permission to take paddy, saying that it will not take paddy from states giving bonus. We met many ministers including Prime Minister Narendra Modi but in vain. We then launched Rajiv Gandhi Nyaya Yojana. The Centre took it as a scheme for giving bonus to farmers. ‘When I spoke to the Prime Minister, I got permission on January 3. There is a difference in understanding between the Central Government and the State Government in this matter,” Chief Minister informed the House.

The Chief Minister further said that all should respect the farmers who give food. “Tomorrow (Friday) I am going to Delhi to meet the Union Food Minister. I will demand to take 60 lakh metric tonnes of rice. If permission is not given, we will use state resources. Paddy will be auctioned. We are also seeking permission from centre to use paddy to make ethanol for long but permission is awaited,” informed the Chief Minister.

Finally, the Chief Minister proposed a half-hour discussion on the subject, which was accepted by the Deputy Speaker.

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