The Union government on Wednesday, July 20 said it will resume procurement of surplus rice from Telangana for the central pool after its intervention forced the state government to restart distribution of free grains under the PMGKAY to the poor from June. Under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY), the Union government gives 5 kg additional grains for free to 80 crore eligible beneficiaries in the country under the National Food Security Act. The scheme, launched in April 2020, has been extended a couple of times till September 2022.
In the case of Telangana, the monthly foodgrain requirement under PMGKAY is about 96,000 tonnes. Briefing media, Union Food Minister Piyush Goyal said, "To ensure the poor do not suffer, the Centre has put pressure on the state government which restarted distribution of free grains under the PMGKAY from June onwards and promised to do in July as well." Looking at this, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) has decided to accept the surplus rice from Telangana for the central pool, he said.
Goyal accused the Telangana government of being an "insensitive" government which had stopped distribution of free grains under the PMGKAY in April and May months even after lifting the grain from the central pool for the same. It is "injustice" to take away the rights of the poor beneficiaries, he said and added, "Making statements against the Prime Minister and us in foul language will not ensure the welfare of the people."
Goyal also claimed that the state government was not taking action against default mills where the paddy stock did not tally and even was not stored properly. The state government had even assured that it will overcome the impediments experienced during the physical verification of paddy stocks during 2020-21 and promised to keep the paddy stock in a countable position along with proper book keeping and Standard Operating Procedure (SoP) for the same. When no action was taken by the state government despite the Union government making several requests, Goyal said, "With heavy heart, I had to stop procurement of rice from Telangana."
Asked if any other state had stopped distribution of PMGKAY grains, the minister said Telangana and even Andhra Pradesh which has promised to distribute now. BJP Telangana leader and Union Minister for Tourism G Kishan Reddy said the rice which was not distributed in April and May under PMGKAY will also be supplied to the eligible beneficiaries by the state government.
He also alleged that the Telangana government was "wrongly publicising" that the state was not able to procure paddy from farmers in the last few days citing reasons that the Union government has stopped accepting rice for the central pool. Paddy procurement is the responsibility of the state government, not the Union government, as Telangana follows a decentralised procurement (DCP) system, he said. Under the DCP system, state government agencies procure, store and distribute required foodgrains for PDS and other welfare schemes within the state. The surplus stock procured by the state is handed over to FCI towards the central pool.
Telangana has procured 79.02 lakh tonnes of rice till July 17 of this year for the central pool, while its annual requirement for PDS and other welfare schemes distribution is about 15-16 lakh tonnes, as per official data. The state had procured 95.25 lakh tonnes in 2021-22 and 74.54 lakh tonnes in 2019-20 kharif marketing season for the central pool, the data showed.