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7states are yet to implement govt’s ration quota plan

April 08, 2020 05:55 AM

COURTESY HT APRIL 8

7states are yet to implement govt’s ration quota plan
Zia Haq and Saubhadra Chatterji

letters@hindustantimes.com

new delhi : The Union government is carrying out the largest movement and distribution ever of food grains to states in the wake of the coronavirus lockdown through the Food Corporation of India, official data shows

Railways are carrying record freight from a network of state-held granaries — 150000 tonne worth of shipments daily in contrast to a normal average of80,000 tonne daily in the pre-lockdown period, data from the consumer affairs ministry showed. The Centre is ferrying additional foodgrains after finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan package, which doubled food ration quota under (from 5 kg per person under the National Food Security Act to 10 kg) for the next three months. The additional 5 kg is being distributed free.

However, seven states — Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka and Manipur — haven’t yet implemented the doubling of ration quota, prompting authorities to send repeated advisories to them, an official familiar with the matter said requesting anonymity.

“The movement of foodgrains is unprecedented. Given the quantities and rakes recorded by us, we think this is the largest exercise to be carried out ever,” an official of the consumer affairs ministry said, asking not to be named. In addition to meeting the regular requirements of food grains as mandated by the Food Security Act, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) is sending out wheat and rice directly to states without holding the otherwise mandatory e-auctions. Such quantities are being sold to states at open market sale rates to ensure continuous supply of food grains, the official added.

“Wheat shipments are also being sent to meet the requirements of manufacturers of wheat flour and other wheat products based on the assessment of requirements done by district magistrates,” the official said.

FCI has allotted 138000 tonne of wheat for such commercial processing in 13 states and 132000 tonne of rice to eight states under this model. “We want to exhaust our existing stock of food grains before we lift the free grains quota given by Centre...,” said Jokey Angu, Arunachal Pradesh’s secretary of food and civil supplies.

Jharkhand’s food, public distribution and consumer affairs department director Sanjay Kumar said: “We have told the Centre that since for April and May regular foodgrain quota is being distributed to beneficiaries, we will distribute the additional free foodgrains of two months, total 10 kg, next month in May. The remaining 5 kg will be distributed in June.”

A senior food department official from Karnataka, HR Vijay Kumar, said Karnataka has distributed the total foodgrains due for April and May in April itself from its own quota. In May, the state will be distributing foodgrains due for May and June from the Centre’s quota.

A spokesperson for the Chhattisgarh government said it was opting for moving surplus rice from the state’s stocks to the Centre’s stock and claim the subsidy since it is a rice surplus state.

Andhra Pradesh’s supplies commissioner Kona Sasidhar said Food Corporation of India authorities have refused to release additional rice immediately, asking the state to exhaust its existing stocks first .

(With inputs from Guwahati, Hyderabad, Raipur and Ranchi

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