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Opposition Criticises Indian Government for Rice Export Ban

01 March 2012

INDIA - The state government's repeated attempts to project its image as pro-farmer and pro-consumer failed to simmer tensions with opposition parties, which lashed out at its decision to ban export of superfine varieties to neighbouring states.

Terming the decision as undemocratic and illegal, a united opposition launched an attack on the state government in the Assembly on Tuesday for misleading farmers and denying them an opportunity to sell superfine rice for a better price in neighbouring states, ignoring the Centre's directive that there should be no restriction on inter-state movement of paddy or rice, reports the Times of India.

The house witnessed an intense debate for nearly 145 minutes on the restrictions imposed on movement of rice in response to a question by Loksatta party leader Dr Jaya Prakash Narayan during the Q&A session.

Cautioning the state government that severe unrest could grip paddy farmers if the government failed to take remedial measures, Dr Narayan accused the government of violating provisions of the Essential Commodities Act. "It is a central act and the state has no jurisdiction over it. When there is no restriction on export of rice to foreign countries, why should the state prevent inter-state movement?" he questioned.

Members cutting across party lines expressed strong displeasure at minister D Sridhar Babu's reply during the question hour after he informed the house that there was no restriction on the movement of rice to other states but for some "informal orders" to keep a check on middlemen and traders.

Members took a strong objection to the minister's justification that "superfine varieties like BPT, Sonamasuri, Sambamasuri, Vijyamasuri, etc produced in the state are available to consumers in the retail market at affordable prices as we have ensured that these superfine varieties are sold only within the state to contain prices of rice. The prices are less than those compared to neighbouring states."

Accusing the state government of sacrificing farmers' interest to help traders, some opposition parties staged a walkout, while the Loksatta party protested against the government for denying farmers the right to transport, distribute and disburse their produce as per government of India guidelines.

TheCropSite News Desk

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