Rice supply to Karnataka: CM Siddaramaiah says Shah to take up matter with food ministry

New Delhi: Union Home Minister Amit Shah has given an assurance that he will take up with the ministry of food the issue of providing rice to Karnataka for its ‘Anna Bhagya’ scheme, state Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said on Thursday.

Siddaramaiah met Shah on Wednesday night and took up the issue of rice supply to the state for its scheme, which provides additional 5 kg of rice for each member of BPL families.

“I have brought to his (Shah) notice that FCI had agreed to supply rice to the state and even issued a letter. However, the same was denied the next day. It looks like the issue was politicised. I have said that we should not indulge in the politics of enmity,” Siddaramaiah told reporters here before leaving for Bengaluru.

Shah has assured that he will discuss the issue with the ministry concerned and get back to him, he added.

Besides the rice issue, the chief minister also demanded the Union Home Minister sanction two battalions of the Indian Reserve Police to the state.

According to the Chief Minister’s office, Siddaramaiah told Shah that the Centre’s policy was causing obstacles in supply of food for the poor. Shah said he will discuss the issue with Union Food Minister Piyush Goyal.

Siddaramaiah opined that “the Centre’s new policy is against the Food Security Act, it will directly affect two times meals of the poor, hence it will be good if the policy of not supplying foodgrains to the states is changed,” according to the CMO statement.

“Shah, in turn, told the chief minister that he will discuss with Union Food Minister Piyush Goyal in this regard on Thursday morning,” it added.

Siddaramaiah and his ministers have been accusing the BJP-led government at the Centre of conspiring to “fail” the Congress administration’s poll guarantee by ensuring that the state doesn’t get the required amount of rice from Food Corporation of India (FCI), for rolling out the ‘Anna Bhagya’ scheme, from July 1, as promised.

They have alleged that the Centre discontinued the sale of wheat and rice under OMSS(D) for state governments, a day after the FCI — which has a large quantity of stocks — had agreed to provide 2,28,425.750 metric tonne of rice to Karnataka, at a rate of Rs 34 per kg on June 12.

The BJP, however, has hit back accusing the Congress and Siddaramaiah of blatantly “lying to hide their own incompetence” and desperately trying to blame Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre.

While the state government is trying to procure rice and has reached out to various states like Telangana, West Bengal, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, he said they will not be able to supply the state’s requirement of 2,28,000 metric tonne. “Also, the cost of transportation will be high”.

“From Andhra it will cost Rs 42 per kg of rice, Telangana said only paddy is available not rice, Chhattisgarh CM told me they are in a position to supply 1 lakh metric tonne of rice only for one month, Punjab CM said he will discuss with officials and get back,” he said.

Siddaramaiah pointed out that such a large quantity of rice is not available in Karnataka and said, “we will have to go for a tender in the open market, it will take a minimum of two months”.

“So we have called for quotations from central government agencies like NCCF, NAFED, Kendriya Bhandar. We will get to know tomorrow from them, once we get to know we will decide. There may be slight delay in implementing the scheme as the central government has played politics,” he claimed.