Union Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan today slammed Bihar government for alleged sloppy pace of paddy procurement despite twice extending the deadline by the Centre and said if Nitish Kumar ministry was "incompetent" to do so, the FCI was ready to step in.
"For the last four months we have been urging the state government to fulfill the target of acquiring 30 lakh metric tonnes of paddy by January 31 last. But, despite extending the deadline twice till March 31 the Bihar government has so far purchased only 14.60 lakh metric tonnes of paddy," Paswan told reporters.
"Now only 10 days are left for the state government to meet the deadline," the union food minister said and wondered how the target would be achieved in this short duration.
"Due to inadequate arrangements for paddy procurement and laxity on the part of the state government, farmers have been deprived of minimum support price," he said.
"If the state government is incompetent to procure paddy to fulfill the target and in case it makes a request to the union government FCI (Food Corporation of India) is ready to step in," Paswan said.
The Union Food Minister said that due to inadequate procurement, the Centre had arranged grains from surplus states like Punjab, Haryana and Chhattisgarh to run Public Distribution System in Bihar in the past.
Paswan, who is also President of Lok Janshakti Party, took Bihar government to task for failing to provide list of 1.11 crore beneficiaries still left out of subsidised ration under Food law.
He, however, said the Centre would not stop allotment of quota of foodgrains to Bihar after March 31 this year on this count.
Paswan said a total of 8.71 crore beneficiaries were listed for subsidised ration under the Food law in Bihar out of which the state government had provided a list of only 7.60 crore to the Centre so far.
He trashed argument of the state government of providing list of some left out beneficiaries to NIC and asked Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to make the list available to him directly. "I will start making additional allotment of grains for them from coming Monday itself," the minister said.
He said without tightening arrangements for lifting and distributing foodgrains and computerising the system, Bihar government launched Food law from February one 2014.
The Centre had asked Bihar government to complete the task by March 31, 2015 but "its not in sight yet.