The ongoing crisis in Telangana over paddy procurement from farmers is likely to deepen further with the state government failing to get an assurance from the Centre to lift the paddy.
Amid the mounting criticism of the state government over sluggish procurement of paddy from farmers during the current Kharif season, the Centre has turned down the state’s demand to enhance the target.
During the meeting with a delegation of state ministers led by irrigation minister S. Niranjan Reddy in Delhi last night, union minister for food and public distribution Piyush Goel also made it clear that the Centre will not procure parboiled rice from the state during the ensuing Rabi season.
After the meeting, Reddy told reporters that the stand taken by the Centre is unfortunate. He said they were returning disappointed from the national capital.
The minister said the Centre gave no clarity on the quantity of paddy to be procured during the ongoing Kharif season. Stating that the Food Corporation of India (FCI) had assured the state that 45 lakh tonnes of paddy will be procured, he said the Centre was now dodging the issue.
Niranjan Reddy said the state’s claim that paddy was grown over 62 lakh acres was not accepted and the Centre adopted delaying tactics but it has now accepted this after the satellite survey.
The central minister also turned down the demand of the state government to fix procurement targets for the two crops during the entire year saying this was not feasible.
Piyush Goyal told the delegation that the issue may be addressed by a proposed committee to be constituted by the Centre on agriculture issues in the wake of withdrawal of three new farm laws. The committee would come up with suggestions on MSP, annual target and alternate crops.
On the repeated demand by the state to make its stand clear over procurement in the next season, the union minister told the delegation that parboiled rice will not be procured. The delegation brought to his notice the statements by state BJP leaders urging the state farmers to grow paddy. To this, Goyal assured that the state BJP leaders will be advised not to do so.
With the Centre rejecting the state’s demand to increase procurement during the current season, Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao is likely to hold a meeting with his cabinet colleagues and top officials in a day or two to chalk out future course of action.
The chief minister had last week led a ‘dharna’ in Hyderabad to demand the Centre to lift entire paddy produced in the state. He also visited Delhi but could not meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The TRS government is coming under criticism from opposition for tardy pace of paddy procurement, leading to unrest among farmers. The state government, however, is blaming the Centre for the situation.