Expressing their helplessness in the matter, the association has demanded the government to review both quantum and price for levy rice. According to the new plan, the State has to mobilize 13.5 lakh tonnes of rice from 1,800 rice mills across the State for the central government’s ambitious Annabhagya Scheme which supplies rice at Rs 1 per kg. Mill owners would incur a huge loss in hulling the paddy if they were to give levy as per the new order and initial estimates suggest the total loss to be around Rs 500 crore.
“The association has unanimously protested against the government decision. The calculations were made with old, outdated estimates which are wrong in many ways. We used to provide nearly 2 lakhs tonnes annually, now they have raised it up to 13.5 lakh and demands an immediate release of 5 lakh tonnes,” said N R Vishwaradya, President, Karnatka Rice Mill Owners Association.
The association wants an immediate revisal of the pricing methods as the government does the costing based on a 10-year old costing sheet. “We also demanded the government to remove the stock limit. With the present 30-day stock limit, we cannot store enough paddy. We have only one crop a year now and so we need to have a heavy storage. Moreover, there is no shortage now, the paddy is in surplus so we do not need to have such limits now,” he said. On the power consumption, the government still calculates on a decade old theory of 40 units of power for a tonne. However, Vishwaradya says it takes at least 90 units of power to process one tonne.
Unlike previous years’, the levy order was decided without a consultation with rice mill owners and without taking into account the crop production. Conveying the message that the order is acceptable in its present order, the association has submitted a list of recommendations to the food and civil supplies minister. It hopes to see a favorable revisal of the policy in its upcoming meetings with the government.
Commenting on the new rule, FKCCI President Mr R Shivakumar said that there is no logic in enhancing the levy which was earlier at 2 lac tones and that if the government was committed to providing subsidized rice to poor people, it should procure rice at a reasonable price and fulfill its promise rather than harassing mill owners.