New Delhi: The Centre has extended till February a scheme under which it is allocating wheat to the states to keep prices stable, even though the initiative has drawn a poor response as only five states and UTs have lifted 45,000 tonnes out of the total allocation of 9.09 lakh tonnes.
“We have been asking states to lift the alloted wheat as only the government has the stocks now. Our aim is to keep prices stable till the new crop arrives in April,” a senior official of the Food Ministry said, adding that the Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS), under which the grain is being allocated, “has been extended till February”.
In an effort to contain the prices, the Centre in September last year had announced releasing 9.09 lakh tonnes of wheat to the states and the Union Territories during September and October, which was later extended till December. The states were asked to sell wheat directly to consumers through their agencies.
Tamil Nadu is the only state which has shown interest by lifting 41,787 tonnes out of the allotted 50,000 tonnes, sources said, adding that Assam, Nagaland, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Chandigarh together have bought 3,357 tonnes of wheat under OMSS.
States are reluctant to lift the grain saying prices are high, the official said. However, there are several other reasons for the non-lifting, he added.
Recently, a cooperative federation in Gujarat had approached the Centre for direct allotment of wheat as it did not receive allocation from the state government. Gujarat has not lifted any grain, though it was allocated 40,000 tonnes at a rate of Rs 1,088 a quintal.