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Crackdown against rice hoarding starts

  • Special Correspondent
  • 1 June, 2022 12:00 AM
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The government launched a crackdown against rice hoarders in the capital on Tuesday in the wake of its price spiral and artificial crisis in the country.

Earlier in the day, a decision to carry out a drive against rice hoarding was taken at an emergency meeting at the food ministry, said Kamal Hossain, public relations officer of the ministry.

The operation will be carried out on the basis of the information provided by various state intelligence agencies.

Different watchdogs of the food ministry will take action against illegal rice hoarders for creating its crisis even during its harvesting season.

As part of the move, a team of the ministry raided Babu Bazar in the capital in afternoon.

Three teams of the ministry will visit wholesale and retail shops of Kawran Bazar and Mohammadpur Krishi Market in Dhaka.

Five teams from the food department will work alongside them. District and upazila administrations will also conduct the drive.

Food ministry sources said that the operation will be carried out, acting on information on illegal stocks of rice. Legal action will be taken if illegal stocks are found anywhere.

Letters would also be sent to deputy commissioners and Upazila Nirbahi Officers and NSI, RAB and the National Consumer Protection Department to prevent illegal stockpiling.

The Essential Commodities Act 1956 states how much stock can be kept at any stage.

In that context, two orders were issued in 2011 and 2021. The campaign will continue in that light.

The rules, issued in 2011, state that no trader can possess more than a ton of food without the government's approval.

Among the authorised traders, wholesalers can stock up to 300 tonnes of paddy or rice up to 30 days.

At the retail level, a maximum of 15 tonnes of paddy or rice can be stored for 15 days.

Rice mill owners will be able to store 5 times the capacity of fortnightly pruning paddy for a maximum of 30 days.

A food ministry official said a control room is being set up at the ministry to oversee the overall operation.           He also said three teams from the ministry and five teams from the food department were in the field.

The current situation of paddy and rice was discussed at the cabinet meeting on Monday.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has directed the authorities concerned to conduct a drive to find out whether there is any illegal stockpiling anywhere in the country.

After the meeting, Cabinet Secretary Khandaker Anwarul Islam said: "If anyone trades or stocks unauthorised rice in this way (breaking the rules), action has been directed against them today."

Despite the expected production of paddy in the current Boro season, its price is increasing abnormally, keeping pace with the world market.

Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder thinks that the situation has arisen as big mills have started stocking paddy to make huge profits.

Commenting on the "unhealthy competition in stocks", he said, "Most mill owners buy paddy from markets, but do not go into production."

Although rice prices start to decline every year during Boro harvest, an exception is happening this year.

Retailers alleged that the rice price has started rising since the new paddy came to the market.

Wholesalers say prices have risen from the rice mills. And mill owners say that the price of new paddy is actually high in the market.

A control room of the food ministry has been opened to prevent illegal stocks of paddy and rice.

It has been requested to contact +6022233602113, 01790499942 and 01713003506 to provide information about illegal stocks.