Allegation of paddy recycle at mandis crops up in Panposh of Odisha

Even as paddy procurement in tribal-dominated Sundargarh district is nearing completion, allegation of unscrupulous traders recycling cheaper paddy of Jharkhand at mandis to get the minimum support price (MSP) has surfaced again in Panposh sub-division.

The illegal practice is reportedly going on through various large and multi-purpose cooperative societies (LAMPS) in Nuagaon, Bisra, Kuanrmunda and Lathikata blocks. Sources claimed that unscrupulous rural traders, middlemen and LAMPSs officials are behind the racket. As part of the modus operandi, registered farmers are roped into resale paddy collected in advance with the sole purpose of getting the MSP.   

Traders collect paddy from poor farmers of nearby bordering pockets in Jharkhand including Manoharpur, Jareikela, Hruda and  Paniasal areas for Rs 1,300- Rs 1,400 per quintal. They store the Jharkhand paddy and when the appropriate time comes, resell it at mandis through registered farmers at the MSP of `2,040 per quintal.

The accused take help of those farmers who have received tokens, but do not have adequate surplus paddy to sell. In return, the farmers are offered commission of Rs 100 per quintal.In the last two years, the district administration had initiated preemptive action against the paddy resale. Though the illegal practice was reduced to some extent, it could not be fully eliminated.

Administrative sources said a sustained drive is required to stop this practice. During the 2021 paddy procurement season, four rural godowns of private persons were raided in Kuanrmunda, Nuagaon and Bisra blocks of Panposh and Lefpripada block of Sundargarh sub-division. Around 176 quintal of paddy was detected during the raids.

“Detection of paddy in someone’s possession cannot be called illegal until it is proved that the stock is meant for resale against MSP or those in the illegal practice are caught red-handed. The Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare department lacks manpower in the district to carry out a sustained campaign against this illegal practice,” they said.

Civil supplies officer DC Beshra said against the target of 22.31 lakh quintal of paddy, around 18.54 quintal has been procured. The balance procurement is likely to be completed in next fortnight.“Teams are moving at different procurement centres. We are yet to detect any illegal practice. Action will be taken on getting specific information,” Beshra added.

Paddy theft gang active

The alleged murder of helper of a truck carrying paddy from Jagatsinghpur to Sambalpur has brought to the fore the presence of a paddy theft racket that reportedly robs paddy and extorts money from the millers. Jagatsinghpur police, however, is yet to nab the culprits.

On February 13, a truck loaded with paddy had set out for Cuttack from Krushak Bazar in Jagatsinghpur when unidentified miscreants intercepted the vehicle by pelting stones near Charipolia at Cuttack- Nuagaon National Highway within Jagatsinghpur police limits. The truck helper Gopal Digar was seriously injured in the incident. Following the mishap, the driver took the vehicle back to Jagatsinghpur.

Digar was taken to Jagatsinghpur DHH and later shifted to SCB Medical College and Hospital where he succumbed on February 16. After Digar’s death, truck driver lodged an FIR and a case under section 304 of the IPC was registered. Jagatsinghpur IIC Subhranshu Parida said the truck driver is being interrogated. “The exact cause of death of the helper is being ascertained.”

This article has been republished from The New Indian Express.