Former union minister Harsimrat Badal on Friday urged Food and Public Distribution Minister Piyush Goyal to resolve the grievances of rice millers of Punjab who are protesting against summary action against them by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) at the earliest.
In a letter to the minister, Harsimrat Badal said penal action against millers on account of quality issues in blending of micronutrients in rice to produce fortified rice kernels (FRK) was unjustified.She said FRK is being procured by millers from designated units. “Onus for quality of FRK should not rest with the millers as they were only blending the micronutrients mechanically.”
The Bathinda MP said over 1,000 lots of FRK had been rejected by the FCI. “Millers have been asked to pay a penalty of Rs 62 lakh without checking their quality of the milling. Instead of going after the millers, the FCI should take action against the FCI licensed mills that have been producing the fortifying material used to coat the rice kernels with micronutrients.”
Harsimrat Badal said with millers going on strike, it was impacting the procurement process. “Grain markets in Punjab have been clogged with lifting not taking place. Farmers are also being harassed due to the shutdown in procurement.”
She said recent inclement weather had added to the woes of farmers while asserting that arhtiyas had also been adversely affected by the strike.She also urged that compensation for drying rice had already been reduced from two to one per cent and now further to .5 per cent. “This along with the reduction in compensation for depreciation of jute bags from Rs 7.32 per bag to Rs 3.75 per bag has also affected millers adversely,” she added.