K’taka govt negotiating with central agencies for rice for Anna Bhagya scheme: CM Siddaramaiah

06:23 PM Jun 24, 2023 | PTI |

Bengaluru: A day after the Centre refused to give rice to Karnataka, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Saturday said the state has invited quotations from three central agencies to supply rice for the Anna Bhagya scheme offering five kg extra rice to the BPL families.


He said the negotiations for prices were underway with these agencies.

He also slammed the Centre for refusing to provide rice to his government for the scheme which is one of the five guarantees, that was supposed to start immediately after the Congress came to power in Karnataka.

“What we have done is we have sought quotations from the National Consumers’ Cooperative Federation (NCCF), Kendriya Bhandar and National Agriculture Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED). They have given us quotation,” the Chief Minister told reporters.

He said, “We are negotiating with them. Today the negotiations will happen. After that we will get to know the quantity, quality and price of rice will be decided.”


When asked about purchasing from the open market, Siddaramaiah said tenders have to be floated, which takes time.

About exploring other substitutes, he said the state has a stock of Ragi and maize for six months, which can be given only two kg at the most.

“Two kg Ragi can be given in old Mysuru region and two kg maize in North Karnataka but we still need three kg rice. This is the problem. There isn’t stock of Ragi and maize to supply for the entire year,” the Chief Minister explained.

Siddaramaiah hit out at the Centre for denying rice to the state government despite having adequate stock.

He called the Centre anti-poor and accused it of scuttling a programme meant for the economically weaker sections.

“The Centre did not agree to give us rice only to create problem and scuttle the scheme meant for poor people. They have adequate rice, which in lakhs of tonnes. They are giving it to private people, they are auctioning it but they are not giving to the states,” the Chief Minister said.

Siddaramaiah said the state was not asking for rice free of cost as the state was ready to pay for it.

According to him, already five kg is coming from the Centre, which costs Rs 36.70 per kg. The Karnataka government will pay accordingly if rice is given.

“What’s the purpose behind denying us rice? It is a scheme for the poor people. You (Centre) are doing politics of hatred. What should we call them? Are they pro-poor or anti-poor? Let the people of the state decide,” he alleged.

To a question on Yediyurappa’s decision to stage demonstration, Siddaramaiah said he has freedom to protest. He, however, wondered what moral he has got to stage demonstration.

Anna Bhagya, one of the guarantees, was supposed to start from July 1 but due to inadequate stock of rice it may not start on the said date, he said.

“We are launching five guarantees. Already we have started one guarantee. From July 1, free electricity (up to 200 units for residential connections). We had also planned giving free rice from July 1 but we are not getting rice,” Siddaramaiah said.

The Chief Minister said the state government had already contacted Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh governments but these states do not have the required amount of rice. Also, the rates were high, he claimed.

According to him, Karnataka needs an extra 2.29 lakh metric tonnes of rice which is not available in any state.

Siddaramaiah said Telangana has agreed to give paddy and not rice while Chhattisgarh says it can give 1.5 lakh metric tonnes but only for a month. The question before the government is what to do from the next month onwards, he added.

“To a question on government’s preparedness to deal with scanty rainfall, Siddaramaiah said the state government is strong enough to face all kind of challenges.

“We will pray for rains. Sowing has started in some places while in other places it has not started yet. I have also held meetings with deputy commissioners to ensure that there is no water shortage in districts. We will see to it that there is no water crisis,” the Chief Minister said.

He also said the state is fully prepared for sowing whenever rain comes. The agriculture department is ready with seeds, fertilisers and pesticides, he added.

The Chief Minister vented his anger at the Centre after Union Food And Civil Supplies Minister Piyush Goyal reportedly denied giving rice to the state.

“Piyush Goyal has said the centre cannot give us rice,” the Karnataka Food and Civil Supplies Minister K H Muniyappa told reporters in New Delhi on Friday.

Muniyappa said he told Goyal the Centre needs 135 lakh metric tonnes of rice for across India while it has a stock of 268 lakh tonnes, which is double.

The Karnataka Minister also said that the state was ready to pay whatever rate the FCI fixes to supply rice to the state but he did not agree saying the Centre needs at least 100 lakh tonnes of rice for various other scheme.

“This (Goyal’s denial) is politically motivated. They have stock of rice. We are ready to give money for it. You should get rice from rice producing states and give it to states in need,” he charged.

Muniyappa also said the Congress-led UPA had introduced the Food Security Act in 2013. This rice stock is due to the Act to sustain poor people.

Noting that denying rice to Karnataka citing various reasons was not proper, the minister said the state will fulfill its promise of providing 10 kg rice under the Anna Bhagya scheme.


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