Ration rice smuggled from Tamil Nadu being polished and sold for higher prices in Kerala

P Suresh Babu

Rice smuggled on train, rice sacks being carried on bike without number plate

Coimbatore: Rice smuggling from Tamil Nadu to Kerala has turned into a common practice over recent years. The rice is bought for a lesser price from Tamil Nadu, brought to Palakkad, polished and sold for higher prices through the retailers in the state.

The smuggling is a means of income for many people in Palakkad, Pollachi, Coimbatore and Tiruppur. The list of people arrested while trying to smuggle ration rice from the border districts of Tamil Nadu from May to June 20 had come out recently. The police squad confiscated around 4,045 tonnes of rice in 2,853 reported cases. As many as 901 vehicles used for smuggling the rice were also seized. The statistics were recently made public by J Radhakrishnan, the Principal Secretary of the Department of Co-operation, Food and Consumer Protection of the state of Tamil Nadu. The officials further state that half of the smuggling cases are not even being reported.

In Tamil Nadu, each member on the ration card gets 5 kg of boiled rice. Tamilians usually do not use this type of rice for meals, but for preparing snacks. The rice used for meals is Ponni. Each house will get a minimum of about 15 kg of rice this way.

Most families above the poverty line do not use ration rice. The agents buy the rice from such families. It is also a common practice for ration shop owners to buy rice in the name of those who don’t purchase from the shops.

The smuggled rice reaches Palakkad through the check posts in the border districts of Tamil Nadu. The rice thus brought is sold for Rs 10 to 20 per kg. There are agents who reap profits between Rs 1,000 to 10,000 per day this way.

In most cases, rice is smuggled using mopeds and minivans. It is also smuggled on passenger trains and express trains during night. Usually, sacks of rice are pushed off trains near Walayar and Kanjikode stations and will be shifted to secret centres from there. Even if the sacks are confiscated by the police, the smugglers are seldom tracked down.

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