NEW DELHI: The food ministry on Monday said 16 out of 17 states including non-BJP states of Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Bihar and Jharkhand have supported the
’s decision to stop selling FCI rice to states amid the ongoing controversy over the revised policy. The Centre’s claim came after a lukewarm response to open market sale of rice.
Union food secretary
Sanjeev Chopra told reporters that food ministers of all states barring one present in the last meeting chaired by Union minister Piyush Goyal supported the government decision.
While Karnataka has criticised the decision, the food ministry said the decision has been taken in “national interest” to check retail prices. The food secretary also said the lukewarm response to the first e-auction should not discourage as the intent was to send “signals” to the market that the government has enough stock for market intervention.
He added that the government is open to tweaking the policy. Chopra said the Centre will watch how the subsequent e-auction rounds go before deciding on the next course of action.
Congress-led Karnataka and the Centre have locked horns over the open sale of FCI rice, with the latter maintaining that it does not have enough stocks to meet the demand if all states start seeking rice from the central buffer stock.
Chopra said states are of the view that the Centre’s surplus food stock should be used in the larger interest of 140 crore population and “not for a particular section and particular class of people”.
In the first round of e-auction held on July 5, the FCI had offered 3.88 lakh tonnes of rice but only 170 tonnes was sold to five bidders. The next auction is scheduled on July 12.
“Let’s not get discouraged with one round not getting a good response. Usually, FCI does not do routine OMSS for rice. It is primarily done for wheat. For rice, it just started. We expected more (response) for rice, but it has not happened,” Chopra said. He added that the e-auction will be continued until March 31, 2024.