A task force has unearthed a huge amount of hoarded rice from the godowns of rice tycoon Abdur Rashid in Kushtia’s Khajanagar area.
The task force, led by Kushtia Sadar upazila’s Assistant Commissioner (Land) Saiful Islam, inspected 13 godowns of Rashid Agro Food Products Ltd and came to a conclusion that rice sacks in those godowns were stored at least four to five months ago.
The company was fined Tk 50,000 for hoarding the rice.
Talking to reporters after the inspection, Saiful expressed surprise that the company’s owner Abdur Rashid, president of Bangldesh Rice Mill Owners’ Association, was sitting on a huge stock of rice in his warehouse while the market prices continued to rise over the last one month.
“The major supply of fine rices, particularly Miniket, is generated from Kushtia. They (rice mill owners) have formed a syndicate. They have hoarded paddy and rice for swindling huge sums from the pockets of general people,” he said.
The assistant commissioner also mentioned that the sales ledger at Rashid Autorice Mills Ltd showed that the mill gate price of Miniket was Tk56.40 per kilogram on Monday whereas the price was Tk51.50 just a month ago.
Media reports on the recent rice price anomaly prompted Kushtia Deputy Commissioner Md Zahir Raihan to call an emergency meeting with officials concerned on August 30. He gave an ultimatum to the mill owners to rein in the soaring prices within 24 hours.
The mill owners did not take heed to the warning, instead claiming that they were compelled. They noted that paddy prices at the growers’ level have been high as its production in the preceding Boro season was hampered by floods across the country.
However, a recent intelligence agency report has revealed that major rice mills in Kushtia are sitting on huge stocks of rice.
The godowns of Abdur Rashid have a storage of about 200,000 tons of rice, according to the report.
The report also mentioned that at least 70 mills in Kushtia have abnormally high stocks.