Over 17 lakh fictitious plots registered for paddy sales under MSP in Odisha have been found via satellite scan

It has been shockingly revealed that more than 17 lakh of the plots that farmers registered as paddy fields during the 2023 kharif marketing season (KMS) for the sale of excess paddy under the state’s minimum support price (MSP) are really fake. It has been discovered that areas containing non-paddy vegetation, such as ponds, forests, orchards, and even structures like schools, have been identified as paddy fields.

Following complaints from district field workers indicating that many plots were discovered to be fraudulent following physical inspection, the Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare department carried out an internal review of every registered plot. A satellite scan of about 20.10 lakh plots was requested by the department from the Odisha Space Application Centre (ORSAC) since their registration numbers did not match the Odisha land records (Bhulekh).

According to the satellite study, 17.93 lakh plots out of total are fraudulent. The representation of water features as paddy fields, such as village ponds, rivers, forest land, gochar land, orchards, and plots with non-paddy vegetation, is unsettling. According to official sources, there have been instances when government buildings and schools have been listed as agricultural property with paddy crops.

According to further sources, there are several instances where multiple family members have falsely registered land belonging to another individual in their names, while in other situations, farmers have registered a single piece of property for the purpose of selling paddy under the price support scheme.

According to information obtained, the agency has canceled all of these bogus registrations and instructed field workers to physically verify the dubious plots. According to the officer, “where online tokens have been issued for the procurement of paddy, they have been withheld and district officials have been instructed not to purchase paddy from farmers who are placed on the ‘grey list’ until further orders.”

Even though the paddy procurement season will end on March 31, 2024, 13.28 lakh registered farmers have provided the state government with 57.74 lakh tonnes of paddy so far. Following the revocation of several fictitious plots, the government may not be able to meet its aim of acquiring 65 lakh tonnes of kharif rice.

District reports said that dealers from West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh are removing large amounts of paddy from the state by giving farmers competitive prices. West Bengali vendors give prices between Rs 1,800 and Rs 2,000 per quintal, whereas Chhattisgarh traders purchase paddy at Rs 2,100 per quintal. This is in contrast to the MSP of Rs 2,183 per quintal.