Fine quality rice still eludes consumers

Hyderabad, June 10: The state government is finding it hard to live up to its promise of making fine quality rice available at Rs 20 per kg despite a
crackdown on hoarders across the state over the past fortnight.

Civil supplies minister J Krishna Rao on Tuesday said that a spate of raids on millers and hoarders across the state was yielding results with millers coming forward to sell fine quality rice (sona masuri) at Rs 26 per kg. The minister said raids by the vigilance and enforcement department across the state had resulted in the seizure of stocks worth Rs 119 crore.

He said rice millers in Hyderabad and Ranga Reddy districts have come forward to sell rice at Rs 26 per kg till their stocks lasted. The minister said that their proposal would be discussed in detail with officials and they were awaiting an assurance from rice millers in Nalgonda, East Godavari and Guntur, where large reserves of rice are present in godowns.

The minister was at loss for words when asked why the government was not able to provide rice at the promised price of Rs 20 per kg. He, instead, said purchase of rice by the millers in the price range of Rs 1,300 to Rs 1,800 per quintal against an MSP of Rs 930 per quintal had resulted in the steep escalation of prices of fine rice in the state.

He too joined the chorus with previous civil supplies minister Kasu Krishna Reddy, who had said that the rise in the prices of fine quality rice was due to a steep increase in the purchasing power of consumers and their desire to consume fine quality rice.

Rao said the civil supplies department officials were keeping a close watch on the open market prices and on traders who were trying to increase prices of fine quality rice due to a huge gap in demand-supply chain. He said the government would continue to take stringent action against hoarders and black-marketeers.