Farmers protest smuggling of Bihar rice into Punjab : The Tribune India

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Farmers protest smuggling of Bihar rice into Punjab

Farmers protest smuggling of Bihar rice into Punjab

Farmers protest outside a rice mill at Dharampura village, demanding action against miller for bringing rice from Bihar illegally.



Tribune News Service

Ruchika M Khanna

Chandigarh, April 4

In a case of smuggling of rice from Bihar into Punjab, a rice mill in Mansa district has been found to be getting cheaper rice from the eastern state to be given to the FCI as rice shelled from the paddy bought from Punjab mandis and allocated to the mill for shelling.

Had one of the trucks carrying the rice from Bihar not met with an accident yesterday and caught the attention of villagers who are members of the Punjab Kisan Union, the clandestine business would have gone unnoticed. Even after bringing it to light, farmers of the area had to sit on a dharna to pressurise the government officials to act.

Simranjit Singh Kulrian, a Punjab Kisan Union activist, who led the protest by farmers against the mill and demanded action, told The Tribune that four truckloads of rice were already inside the mill when the fifth truck was apprehended.

Information gathered shows that the consignment of five truckloads of rice was dispatched from Bihar for the rice mill at Dharampura village near Bareta in Mansa district. Though the officials of Markfed, Mandi Board and Department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs are still investigating the incident and a physical verification of the stock being done by Markfed officials, it is suspected that the rice mill at Dharampura was just the first point of delivery, and it was to be further distributed to other mills, which would then pass it on to the FCI as the rice milled from paddy allocated to them in the last paddy season.

Not only have the recipients bought cheaper rice from Bihar, they have also reportedly evaded paying mandi fee on this rice. Secretary, Food and Supplies, Vikas Garg told The Tribune that appropriate action was being taken against the owners of the mill. They will have to pay the market fee, he said.

Meanwhile, Ranjit Singh Josan, vice-president of the Punjab Rice Industry Association, said this year the rice millers in the state had no option but to get rice from outside the state in order to give the consignment to the FCI. “The out-turn ratio of rice from paddy allocated to mills is 67 per cent. But in the last kharif season, the moisture content in paddy was very high. The rice shelled from this paddy was damaged and discoloured. As a result, we could shell only 60-62 per cent rice from the paddy. But millers fear being blacklisted by the FCI for failing to meet the rice delivery requirement. So, they are resorting to buying rice and giving the requisite quantity to the FCI,” he added.

Markfed MD Girish Dayalan said though the physical verification of rice stocks done by their officers did not point at any anomaly or shortfall, they found two trucks of the grain, approximately 600 quintal, parked on the premises of Shiv Shankar Rice Mill. The owner of the mill has transferred mandi fee of Rs 38,385 in the account of the market committee. A notice has been issued to him in this regard, he said.

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The Tribune News Service brings you the latest news, analysis and insights from the region, India and around the world. Follow the Tribune News Service for a wide-ranging coverage of events as they unfold, with perspective and clarity.

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