Food Minister R. Kamaraj on Monday said plans were afoot to procure 15 lakh tonnes of paddy from farmers this year.
Disclosing this to the media here, after chairing a review meeting of direct procurement exercise in Thanjavur district, the Minister said so far 5.17 lakh tonnes of paddy had been procured in the State through 1,389 direct purchase centres (DPCs) run by Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation (TNCSC) at various places and ₹32 crore has been deposited in bank accounts of farmers who had sold their produce.
The Minister reviewed the procurement process in the core delta districts of Thanjavur, Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam.
In Thanjavur district, 1.75 lakh metric tonnes of paddy had been procured through 376 DPCs and ₹11 crore disbursed to ryots.
Asked about complaints of corruption and non-availability of gunny bags at DPCs, the Minister said inspections by officials at DPCs where malpractices were alleged proved that the allegations were not correct.
However, he warned that stern action would be initiated against DPC staff if they indulged in malpractices or corruption.
He said he had also instructed the Vigilance Committee not to be complacent over such complaints and act upon them immediately.
Urging officials to ensure that paddy procurement was carried out without any complaints, he said instructions had been issued to Collectors to initiate steps for setting up of DPCs wherever farmers demanded them.
Stating that stock position of gunny bags in the delta region was satisfactory with an average of 50 lakh gunny bags available in each district, he said tenders had also been floated for procuremen of additional numbers, if needed.
When his attention was brought to the demand from ryots to hike the maximum limit for moisture content from 17% to 20 % in view of climatic conditions, the Minister said it would be discussed and a decision soon taken.
Later, Mr. Kamaraj inspected paddy procurement at Madigai in Thanjavur Taluk and at Sadayarkovil and Neivasal DPCs in Orathanadu Taluk.
In Tiruvarur district, 1.76 metric tonnes of paddy were procured so far through 436 DPCs and ₹10.40 crore deposited in the bank accounts of the ryots.
Chairing a review meeting at Tiruvarur, the Minister urged Civil Supplies Corporation officials to ensure that tokens were issued promptly and paddy procured without any delay at DPCs.
He also urged the officials to assure the quality of paddy procured since the produce procured at DPCs were distributed to consumers as ‘priceless rice’ through the public distribution system.
Stating that the paddy procured in Tiruvarur district would be processed at Modern Rice Mills at Tiruvarur and Sundarakottai and a private rice mills registered with the Corporation, the Minister said elaborate arrangements had also been put in place for transfer of excess paddy to other districts by rail and road.
Urging the officials to transfer the paddy procured at DPCs immediately, or at the earliest possible to open stockyards, he wanted them to ensure that necessary measures were adopted to ensure the quality of the paddy procured.
The Minister also inspected the procurement operations at DPCs in Vaduvur, Velukkudi, Keezhpallam and Koothanallur.
In Nagapattinam district 54,000 metric tonnes of paddy were procured through 270 DPCs and a sum of ₹3.30 core disbursed to farmers.
Chairing a review meeting at the Collectorate, Mr. Kamaraj wanted officials to ensure that good quality paddy was procured at DPCs that had winnowing machines and electronic moisture measuring equipment.
He inspected direct purchase centres set up at Neelappadi, Kurumanangudi, Keezhvelur, Azhiyur and Sikkal.