Opp demands transparency in COVID-related rice purchase

SHILLONG: The Opposition on Thursday demanded proper scrutiny into the purchase of rice during the COVID-19 crisis.
Taking part in the discussion on the motion regarding COVID management, Congress legislator Zenith Sangma alleged that there is a scam in the purchase of rice from the open market.
He said while the rate per kg of rice lifted from FCI Guwahati is Rs 22.50 paise, the prescribed retail rate is upto Rs 28.50 paise which is on the higher side.
Zenith said he had purchased rice from Dhubri, Assam at a cheaper rate and there should not be any reason for the people to purchase rice at a higher rate.
Taking part in the discussion, the Opposition Leader Mukul Sangma also called for an inquiry into the matter.
Earlier, similar concerns were raised by Congress legislators HM Shangpliang and George Lyngdoh during the discussion on a related subject.
However, Food and Civil Supplies Minister James Sangma justified the purchase of rice at Rs 22.50 per kg from the FCI by saying that due to the urgency in view of COVID-19, the state government had decided to purchase rice from the open market to cater to the needs of the people and there was no other motive.
James informed that there was artificial shortage of food grains in the open market due to panic buying.
He also took exception to question marks raised by Shangpliang on purchase of rice.
“I don’t think it is right to question the efforts made by the government at a time when many citizens are praising the move made by the government to control the pandemic,” he said.
In his reply to the motion, Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said that the Centre had appreciated the stand of the government to supply rice to the residents during the crisis.
However, after Mukul suggested that there is a need to streamline the distribution of rice as there is room for leakage, the chief minister assured to examine the matter.

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