The levy target fixed under the new order directs the state government to collect 13.5 lakh tonnes of rice at Rs. 22.10 per kg in one year from the millers.
Millers have been protesting against the government order for the past couple of months over the higher levy rice collection target of 5 lakh metric tonnes till next March. 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 to BPL families .
“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 The calculations were made with old, outdated estimates which are wrong in many ways.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 told SupportBiz.
The strike witnessed wide participation from millers across the state irrespective of the variety of paddy they mill. Districts like Mysore, Bellary, Shimoga, Raichur, Mandya, Dakshina Kannada, Udupi have vast areas of paddy cultivation while Tumkur, Davangere and Belgaum have a good number of rice mills.
Commending on the current crisis, FKCCI President Mr R ShivaKumar said, “The government had increased the target by nine times compared to last year. The government must come out with a scientific and achievable target. The mill owners will be incurring a huge loss in hulling the paddy if they levy as per the new order and the total loss likely to be incurred would be Rs 500 crore in the bargain.”
He said the mill owners are operating with very meager margins of 2-3 percent and this additional burden will leave them with no money even to buy the paddy. “Considering the market price of rice at around Rs 35 per kg, this move from the government will affect the rice mill traders and owners badly and they are likely to look into alternative businesses which will result huge loss to the exchequer,” he said. FKCCI has urged the government to have a re-look into the entire situation and see to it that the indefinite strike does not prolong for long as it is not in the interest of the state and the common man.