NEW DELHI, Sept 10 � Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan today confirmed that India is planning to import rice from neighbouring Myanmar to tide over the crisis in the North Eastern States of Manipur and Mizoram following ensuing disruption of train services.
Addressing a press conference, Paswan said that India is exploring the possibility of importing rice from Myanmar because the Lumding-Silchar train service is going to be disrupted owing to gauge conversion works.
The import would be for a limited purpose to supply rice to Manipur and Mizoram for a short period of time, official told newsmen.
In this regard, the government has floated an exploratory tender on September 8 to evaluate market prices.
This will be the first time in almost three decades the country will import rice.
According to officials, 20,000 tonnes of rice will be imported per month starting October and tenders are likely to be floated by the State trading enterprises on behalf of the Food Corporation of India (FCI).
Despite having sufficient stocks, the government has to import rice as work is going on to convert the railway line between Lumding and Silchar to broad gauge, officials said.
To meet the requirements of these States, which have deficient paddy production, the FCI will have to move the grains via road ranging 400-600 km.
�Moving the grains via National Highway 44 from Guwahati, which connects these States, is challenging due to hilly terrains and landslide prone areas,� a source said.
Considering these aspects, there is a need to have supplementary stock to avoid any supply crisis in these areas. Therefore, it has been decided to import rice from Myanmar, which is well connected via road to Manipur and Mizoram, sources said. Moreover, the neighbouring country also has surplus stocks, they added.