Bharat Rice New Updates

The State government has termed the Centre’s decision to distribute Bharat rice an “election stunt” and a breach of federal principles.

The National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation (NCCF) has commenced sale of rice at a rate of ₹29 a kg with the agency reportedly mulling plans to open 200 outlets across the State for distribution.

In a statement, Civil Supplies Minister G.R. Anil alleged the move was in violation of the National Food Security Act that mandates the distribution of food grains through ration outlets that operated under State governments. He questioned the need to distribute the rice outside the robust public distribution system that is in effect in Kerala.

He also criticised the Centre for allegedly forcing 57% of the people of the State out of the ration system. It had also slashed the tide-over allocation of food grains that used to be distributed among the non-priority sections.

Moreover, the Centre has potentially weakened the State’s market intervention efforts by barring it from procuring food grains through the Open Market Sale Scheme.

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Meanwhile, ration dealers flagged shortcomings in the distribution system of Bharat rice. All Kerala Retail Ration Dealers’ Association claimed very few people have received the rice since the launch of the supply in Thrissur. There is no system in place to ensure the food grains reached deserving sections, they added.

The plan for K-Rice project included the establishment of the Kerala Rice Limited Company and the creation of rice technology parks in Kanjikode in Palakkad district, and Chengannur in Alappuzha district, to launch Kerala’s own branded rice. However the contract for the plant yet to be signed. Despite initiating construction of a building worth Rs 40 crore for the rice technology park in Kanjikode in 2019, the project encountered setbacks. Tenders were issued five times for the plant, warehouse, and other facilities, yet no contractors were secured, halting the project midway.

Similarly, construction began at the Prabhuram Mills premises in Chengannur for the rice park after obtaining administrative approval worth Rs 66.05 crore. However, the tender process for the plant has yet to commence here as well.

Meanwhile, the Bharat rice, released by the central government, has been made available for sale since yesterday, including through online platforms. The distribution responsibility lies with organizations such as the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED), National Consumer Cooperative Federation (NCCF), and Kendriya Bhandar. Distribution in other districts in Kerala is set to commence from the next day.