A high-level delegation, led by Telangana Prime Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao, was in Delhi to address issues such as the confusion in the procurement of state-grown rice, the division of the Krishna river water between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, and related issues the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act, 2014. Chandrashekar Rao, who has camped in Delhi for four days since arriving on November 21, also sought an audience with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Interior Minister Amit Shah.
While Chandrashekar Rao could meet neither Modi nor Shah, his three ministerial colleagues – Urban Development and IT Minister K. Taraka Rama Rao, Agriculture Minister S. Niranjan Reddy and Minister of Civil Supply Gangula Kamalakar – and high-ranking officials met the Union Food and The Minister for public distribution, Piyush Goyal, and the Union Minister of Agriculture, Narendra Singh Tomar.
The Telangana government visit comes after a series of protests against the state’s procurement of rice and parboiled rice. While the center has unequivocally reiterated that it will not purchase parboiled rice grown in Telangana during the yasangi (rabi) season, it has also remained silent about the exact amount of paddy it would procure. An angry Telangana government said the centre’s persistent stance on parboiled rice would lead to “boiled rice” disappearing from the state in the future.
Chandrashekar Rao even shot down a letter to the prime minister on November 17, in which he reiterated his request that the center put forward a clear rice procurement policy and set annual rice procurement targets. The Prime Minister had requested that the Food Corporation of India (FCI), the Union’s government agency responsible for the procurement of grain, be instructed to limit its targeted procurement of 40 lakh tons of rice during the current 2021-22 season in Kharif (Vaanakalam) increase 90 percent of production to complete sourcing of the remaining 5 lakh tons of parboiled rice produced during the 2020-21 Rabi season (yasangi) and to confirm the sourcing target for rice grown during the following Rabi season will.
But the center seems unmoved. Piyush Goyal informed the delegation that the center would make a final decision on the amount of rice to be procured only after consulting officials from the Agriculture and Public Distribution System (PDS) departments.
But in a small concession, the Union government assured the Telangana delegation that it would ensure some improvement in paddy and rice procurement. And in another positive development, the center agreed to Rama Rao’s proposal to set and announce an annual destination for rice procurement. The central government said that an annual target needs to be implemented for all states across the country and that the center will do so from next year.