The Food Corporation of India ( FCI) has in a letter urged the state government to send surplus rice to states like Kerala, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu to cope with the shortage in rice procurement in those three states. The state food department though, glad with the development, however, informed that chief minister Mamata Banerjee will take the final call on the issue.

Jyoti Priya Mallick, state food minister said, “Although the state is more than happy to bail out the three states like Kerala, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu in hour of crisis by delivering rice but the final decision rests on the chief minister. We have to send about 8 lakh metric ton of rice to those three states. We are awaiting the clearance from the chief minister’s office,” Mallick said on the sidelines of a programme on “Khadya Sathi Day on Sunday.

Though the FCI letter entailing the request to the state had reportedly issued on 9 January, the state’s move to walk tight rope on the issue so far stemmed from the fact that the former had reportedly reneged on its promise to pay up Rs 900 crore it owed to on the issue of giving rice to the FCI on ICDS, Mid Day Meal and WBNP schemes.

“Though we are giving rice to the FCI on central schemes like ICDS, Mid Day Meal and WBNP as per directive of the chief minister, the Centre is not so liberal on paying up the due and are being discriminated against as we are to rake in huge losses owing to the delay in payment,” the food minister said.

Addressing a programme on the state government’s flagship programme Khadya Sathi’, Mallick said the state had already provided 11,270, 483 metric ton of rice to the FCI in the first and second quarter of 2017-18 for those central schemes in districts like Birbhum, East Midnapore, West Midnapore, South Dinajpur, North Dinajpur, Jalpaiguri, Murshidabad, Nadia, Malda, Cooch Behar and AlipurDuar.

“More 42,883 metric ton to be provided to the FCI for 11 more districts” , the minister said.