Lobby pressure cooks govt's rice scheme

Lobby pressure cooks govt's rice scheme

In price rise season

Lobby pressure cooks govt's rice scheme

The powerful rice mill owners’ lobby has defeated the State Government’s plan to put cheap rice on the common man’s table.

And that too when prices of essential commodities, including rice, continue to move northwards. That the government has buckled under the lobby’s pressures is evident from the fact that a committee set up to devise a scheme to check price rise has wound up without taking any decisions.

The high-level committee headed by the chief secretary, which was set up to recommend steps to check skyrocketing prices, failed to take any decision at its second meeting on December 10, top government sources disclosed. At that meeting, the committee took one decision— to meet after two months when “the price of essential commodities would have come down.”

In fact, a committee member said “extending a succour to the people by providing subsidy means a heavy financial burden on the exchequer. So, we decided to wait and watch for the time being.” Under pressure from the lobby, the government has also put a stop to organising “Akki Sante” (rice shandy), an innotive programme launched a few months ago to provide relief to the common man by providing rice at reasonable prices.

The Department of Food and Civil Supplies, with the cooperation of rice mill owners, had organised “Akki Sante”  in August this year in Bangalore.  As many as 2,185 quintals of rice (sona masuri variety) was sold at seven shandies organised at janata bazaars.

Three varieties of sona masuri rice (steam), B T Sona, Ganga Sona and Fine Sona, were sold at Rs 20, Rs 25 and Rs 28 per kg, respectively. The department directly procured rice from rice mills across the State and sold it to people at fair prices.
In the open market, the same variety of rice costs at least Rs 8 to 10 more per kg. One kilogram of sona masuri (fine sona variety) costs Rs 40 in the open market.

Enthused by the success, Food and Civil Supplies Minister H Halappa had announced that the rice fair would  be organised in a big way in the future. However, the plan was shelved owing to pressure from the rice mill owners. “Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa directed officials not to organise the ‘Akki Sante’ after representatives of the mill owners’ association met him recently,” sources said.