KTR accuses Telangana govt of Rs 1k crore scam in rice procurement

Hyderabad: Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) working president K.T. Rama Rao (KTR) has accused the Congress-led Telangana government of being involved in a Rs 1,000 crore scam related to paddy lifting and rice procurement.

KTR called on Chief Minister A. Revanth Reddy and civil supplies minister Uttam Kumar Reddy to address these allegations. He challenged them to initiate a judicial inquiry with a sitting judge to clear their names.

During a press conference at the BRS central office in Hyderabad, KTR accused the Congress party of embezzling government funds. He alleged that under the supervision of the civil supplies department, headed by Uttam Kumar Reddy and overseen by CM Revanth Reddy, tenders were dubiously awarded to four companies to lift paddy from rice millers. This process, KTR claimed, was completed hastily on January 25, showing undue urgency compared to the slow fulfillment of electoral promises.

KTR pointed out that while local rice millers were willing to purchase paddy at Rs 2,100 per quintal, the government sold it at lower prices (between Rs 1,885 and Rs 2,007 per quintal) to companies like Kendriya Bhandar, LG Industries, Hindustan Company, and NACAF. These companies, he claimed, later blackmailed local millers by demanding Rs 2,230 per quintal, resulting in an Rs 800 crore scam. He noted that these companies failed to lift the paddy within the agreed 90-day period, and instead of taking action, the government was considering extending the deadline, possibly to extract more money from the millers.

KTR demanded a white paper from the government detailing the amount of paddy lifted and addressing the allegations of monetary collection from millers. He criticized the government’s silence on the scam for over two weeks and faulted its policy of tendering fine and raw paddy at the same price.

He further criticized the government’s decision to purchase fine rice at Rs 15 more per kilogram than the market price. While the BRS government under KCR had introduced fine rice for school and hostel students as a humane initiative, KTR accused the Congress government of exploiting this cause for corruption. He highlighted that fine rice, with 10% broken rice, is priced at around Rs 42 per kilogram in the market, whereas the government is paying Rs 57 per kilogram to these companies.

KTR also pointed out that the same companies involved in the paddy lifting tenders were awarded contracts for fine rice procurement, raising public suspicions of rigging. He claimed that these companies submitted nearly identical tender quotes, further suggesting collusion.

Recalling the practices of the previous government, KTR mentioned that procured paddy was used for fine rice supply at a better rate of Rs 35 per kilogram. He accused the current administration of engaging in a Rs 300 crore scam in fine rice procurement, citing the procurement of 2.20 lakh metric tons. He demanded the immediate cancellation of tender awarding letters for fine rice procurement from these companies.

KTR urged the BJP and its leaders to involve central agencies and the Food Corporation of India (FCI) to investigate the scam. He noted that the FCI monitors paddy procurement and minimum support price transactions as per the Food Security Act. He suggested that the central government’s silence might indicate collusion with the Congress government.

If the Congress and BJP fail to clarify their roles in the paddy and fine rice scam, KTR warned that judicial intervention would be sought.