Uttam Dismisses BRS Allegations Of A Scam In Paddy Auction

Hyderabad, April 15: Civil Supplies and Irrigation Minister Capt N Uttam Kumar Reddy has reassured that every grain Telangana farmers produce will be procured at Minimum Support Price (MSP). He also warned of stern action against traders who purchase paddy or other produce below MSP.

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Addressing a press conference at Gandhi Bhavan, Uttam Kumar Reddy dismissed the allegations leveled by opposition BRS leaders of a scam in the global tenders called by the Civil Supplies Corporation to dispose of enormous paddy stocks. He said former minister Harish Rao, former BRS MLA Jeevan Reddy, and other BRS leaders were leveling baseless allegations, lacking subject knowledge of either paddy procurement or auction.

Uttam Dismisses BRS Allegations Of A Scam In Paddy Auction
Uttam Dismisses BRS Allegations Of A Scam In Paddy Auction

Uttam Kumar Reddy gave a detailed PowerPoint presentation providing comparative figures of paddy procurement processes and auctions between the previous BRS regime and the current Congress Government.

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Giving a comparative statement on paddy procurement this year (as of April 14) compared to the previous year, Uttam Kumar Reddy said that as against 7,031 Paddy Procurement Centers (PPCs) proposed last year, this year, their number has increased to 7,149 centers. While only 335 PPCs were opened by April 14 last year, this year, as of March 25, a total of 6,919 centers have been opened. Whereas only 233 Metric Tonnes (MTs) of paddy were procured last year, as of April 14, a total of 269,699 MTs (2.70 LMTs) have been procured so far.

“As of the current date, paddy procurement is significantly higher than the previous year,” he said while sharing the district-wise breakdown of PCCs opened and the quantity of paddy purchased in Rabi 2023-24.

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He said never in the past were PCCs opened before April. However, this year, special permission was taken from the Centre to start the PCCs on March 25.

“With 50 LMTs, Telangana is the top state in the procurement estimate of rice against the Rabi crop during KMS 2023-24. The estimate is 25 LMTs for Andhra Pradesh, 10 LMTs for Odisha, 8 LMTs for Tamil Nadu, and 3.42 LMTs for Maharashtra,” he said.

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Uttam Kumar Reddy said that the entire infrastructure required for paddy procurement has been made available on time. These include Tarpaulins—172,884; Paddy Cleaners—8,184; Moisture Meters—9,638; and Weighing Scales with Weights—12,869.

The Minister also gave examples of paddy purchases above MSP. For instance, in Nizamabad’s Varni area, the purchase rate was Rs 2,350 per quintal. Similarly, it was between Rs 2,600 and 2,750 in Miryalguda of Nalgonda, Rs 2,300 and 2,900 in Kesamundram of Mahabubabad, and Rs 2,500 and 2,900 in Mangapet of Mulugu district.

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Uttam Kumar Reddy said that the Congress Government has ensured immediate transportation of paddy from PPCs to the mills. “We have coordinated with the rice millers to unload and acknowledge the quantities immediately. Teams have been constituted for random inspection to ensure quality and avoid bogus transactions. We have ensured timely payment of MSP to farmers through banks only. We have ensured all the infrastructure is available in all the centers, and PPCs Incharges were thoroughly trained,” he said.

He said that paddy arrives from the last week of March until the first week of May. He also gave a district-wise breakdown of paddy’s expected arrival in different periods.

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Explaining the paddy auction, Uttam Kumar Reddy said that the MSP operations are for the benefit of farmers and not to earn profits for the government. “MSP operations are meant to protect the farmers from distress sale. Certain operations entail losses which the government bears,” he said, giving an example of Maize procurement in Rabi 2019-20, which resulted in a loss to the government to the tune of Rs. 960 Crore. While the Maize was purchased at Rs 17,600 per MT, the total purchase value being Rs 1,666.36 Crores, its sale value was only Rs. 1,099.79 crore.

The Minister clarified that during the previous BRS regime, the Telangana State Rice Millers Association gave a representation on June 7, 2023, requesting the then government to conduct an auction of Rabi 2022-23 Paddy, as the quality of paddy was inferior, damaged, discolored, and yielding less OTR. Therefore, the decision to purchase the paddy auction was made by the previous BRS and not by the present Congress Government. “Earlier tender done by the previous BRS Govt fetched an average price of only Rs 1,702.51 per quintal though the paddy was only three months old. Consequently, the tenders were canceled and floated again,” he said, adding that the second tenders could not materialize as the Model Code of Conduct came into force due to the Assembly elections.

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Uttam Kumar Reddy said that after the formation of the new Congress Government, a fresh committee suggested modalities and oversaw the tender process. Accordingly, tenders were floated and finalized, fetching an average price of Rs. 2,022.5/- per quintal, although the paddy was nine months old and deteriorated.

Reasons for calling tenders include the failure to deliver rice timely, leading to paddy stock accumulation, poor paddy quality, avoiding season overlap and recycling, creating space in mills for smooth paddy purchases, and preventing stock damage and cross-infestation.

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However, he said there were major flaws in earlier tenders called by the BRS regime. They failed to account for the cost of the gunny bags. In contrast, bidders were charged extra for gunny bags in the current tenders. Previous tenders also failed to differentiate between “Sannabiyamu” and “Doddubiyamu.” This was done in the current tender.

Therefore, from the auction of 34,59,000 MTS of paddy, the present Congress Government is expected to generate revenue of Rs 6,996.06 crore while the amount was just Rs 5,885.55 crore. He said the average gain per Metric Tonne compared to the previous tender is Rs 1,110.51 crore.

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Uttam Kumar Reddy said that the Civil Supplies Corporation was pushed into a debt of Rs 58,000 crore in the last ten years due to mismanagement by the BRS regime. On the other hand, the Congress Government reduced the same loan by more than Rs. 5,000 Crores in a quarter, which is a self-evident and shining example of the Congress Government’s performance.

The Minister said that the Congress Government has been taking up the paddy procurement process transparently and with utmost commitment and dedication. He noted that the District Collectors had been given clear direction to open more procurement centers wherever required. He asked the farmers not to sell their produce below the MSP under any circumstances and assured stern action against those who forced farmers to sell their crops below the MSP.

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He said that the BRS leaders were trying to target the government on flimsy grounds and leveling baseless allegations. He said that the Congress Government, under the leadership of Chief Minister A Revanth Reddy and Deputy CM Bhatti Vikarmarka, has been taking measures to eradicate the ration rice mafia across Telangana. Further, he said the previous BRS regime did not construct the required number of godowns and depended on the rice millers.

He said that the Congress Government was focused on increasing the storage capacity. Uttam Kumar Reddy said that the Congress Government has been functioning with the motive of public service. “We implemented five guarantees within 100 days of coming to power. Our performance has been unprecedented across the country, and no other government could fulfill so many promises as we did in the last 4-5 months. We will implement all the remaining promises after lifting the Model Code of Conduct for the Lok Sabha elections,” he assured.

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