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Maha: Rice millers in Gondia seek lifting of paddy import ban

Gondia (Maha),  Rice millers in Gondia district of Maharashtra have alleged that the district administration”s move to ban the entry of vehicles transporting paddy from other states has affected the trade and violated the provisions of the Farmers” Produce Trade and Commerce Act, 2020.Denying these allegation, a senior district official told PTI on Sunday that the import of paddy was banned to protect the interests of local farmers and to prevent profiteering.

The official cited the order prohibiting the entry of paddy from other states to Gondia, issued last month by the Food and Civil Supplies Ministry of the Maharashtra government.

Gondia, Bhandara, Gadchiroli, Chandrapur and Nagpur districts in east Maharashtra fall under a major paddy cultivation belt.

Around 700 rice mills are operational in these districts and thousands of people are dependent on these mills for their survival.

The Maharashtra government is offering MSP (minimum supportive price) of Rs 1,868 per quintal for the common grade paddyand had announced bonus of Rs 700 per quintal, taking the effective price per quintal to Rs 2,568.

On the contrary, the rate of paddy offered in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh is less, the official said, adding that some millers from Gondia and neighbouring districts are purchasing paddy from other states at cheaper rate and selling them at procurement centres in the name of farmers to earn profit.

Meanwhile, hundreds of trucks laden with paddy have been detained at the borders of Gondia district following the order of the Food and Civil Supplies department.

Rice Millers Association president Ashok Agrawal has alleged that district authorities have misinterpreted the prohibition order, which he said was in the violation of the Farmers” Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 and against the Ease of Doing Business policy.

“In districts of Gondia, Bhandara and Gadchiroli, the economy revolves around rice trade as thousands of families are dependent on it. But this wrong action of authorities to prevent the entry of paddy from other states has affected the trade,” Agrawal told reporters.

He said paddy was being brought for milling and not to avail any benefit by taking it to state-run procurement centres in Gondia.

He said if the ban on the entry of vehicles transporting paddy is not lifted, rice-millers will find it difficult to repay loans to banks.

When contacted, District Supply Officer Devrao Wankhede said, “We received complaints that paddy was being sold at government procurement centres to get benefit of the MSP, following which we prohibited the import of paddy from other states. Rice millers should ensure that paddy is not taken to these centres. Violators will face action as per law”.

A representative of rice millers said their association has written to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray,NCP chief Sharad Pawar, and party leader Praful Patel seeking lifting of the ban. PTI