Thiruvananthapuram: An extra 89,540 tonne of rice, which the central government had sent for flood-ravaged Kerala is lying in Food Corporation of India (FCI) godowns in the state for the past three weeks, is likely to rot if they are not distributed soon by the state agencies.
The state food minister said the delay in lifting the rice is due to uncertainty over its price. The FCI, has meanwhile, warned the rice will be lost unless it is moved out from its 22 godowns before September 19.
Minister P Thilothaman said the state has sought from the Centre more time to lift the extra rice stocks. They were not taken away so far as the price of the extra rice wasn't finalised. “The Centre hasn't yet fixed the price. The chief minister had suggested in the cabinet meeting that we should lift the stocks even if the decision on the price gets delayed. The state doesn't have enough godowns to stock up the extra rice. However, officials have been asked to organise such facilities,” he said.
FCI general manager for Kerala S K Yadav has told the state that not a single kilo of rice has been taken from 14 of the godowns. Repeated requests have been made to district supply officers, but there had been no response from most of them.
State Civil Supplies director T L Reddy responded to the warning, asking officials to lift the stocks. He also issued them a warning that there won't be a further extension of deadline and if any loss is incurred, they will be made to pay for that.
The Centre on August 21 sent the rice as demanded by the state. Union food minister Ram Vilas Paswan then said the price will be deducted later from Kerala's share of the central disaster relief fund.
The food department had allotted the rice to the 14 districts. As they failed to act and the threat of loss loomed, the Civil Supplies director requested the FCI to keep the godowns open on September 8, a second Saturday holiday. The FCI obliged, and kept all its 22 godowns open. District supply officers, however, didn't bother to turn up.
The FCI general manager then sent a letter to the Civil Supplies chief, lambasting the lapse on the part of the officials. “Rice stocks have not been lifted though we have sent repeated reminders and have kept our godowns open on a holiday.
You have drawn only 6 per cent of the extra rice stocks that the Centre granted. Besides, only 2 per cent of the rice and wheat that the Centre allowed have been taken. It will have to be lifted before September 30. The FCI has only limited facilities to stock rice and wheat. Please act on this on an emergency basis,” the letter read.
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