It appears that due to political problems, Congress govt could not take bold decisions and left controversial issues to be sorted out by Supreme court. The issue of rotting of food grains in the storage godowns of Indian Govt attracted public criticism and the matter was referred to supreme court. There was also a question that why food grains are offered to above poverty line (APL) when they are not supposed to draw it in PDS and Govt can reduce storage of foodgrains to that extent. The Govt gave the following reasons for rotting of food grains to Supreme court by filing affidavit giving response to notice of SC.
- Record procurement in the past 3 years in india.
- For BPL(Below poverty line) ( Poor people )and AAY (Antyodaya Anna Yojana)( food for work) , Govt used these procured food grains. For BPL families, a fixed quota of 35 kg is given. State Govts used to draw this fixed quota every month. But most of the states are not giving this assured 35 kgs of food grains to BPL families under PDS (Public distribution system )and hence there is accumulation of food grains and rotting of it. For Food for work also, there is less drawal of food grains by states.
- Central govt also said that surplus grains used to be given at higher rates to APL (above povery line) category under PDS when there was not adequate response from BPL and AAY for drawal of subsidised food grains. This is to avoid rotting of food grains.
For this, SC reacted and said:
“If this is the position, then increase the storage facility by constructing godowns in every district. But not a single grain of food should be wasted. If due to lack of storage facility food grains are rotting and getting wasted, then distribute it free to those hungry. The govt also can increase the allocation to families covered under BPL and AAY schemes. ”
Also SC took strong note of states inability to take assured 35 kg of food grains for BPL and called state govts to file an affidavit within a week on this anamoly. It wants to know the reasons for not lifting the stock.
Based on reactions of SC, the central govt agreed to follow the instructions by adopting the following steps:
- It agreed to allocate grains to poor families on the basis of the size of the family rather than a fixed quota of 35 kg a month thus increasing the offtake. The Food securities Act will take this as well as the nationa advisory committee’s suggestion to treat the full population in half of the total number of districts in certain parts of backward states like Bihar etc as BPL and allocate food grains to them.
- It will consider adding more godowns.
- It agreed for total computerisation of PDS food grain supply mechanism to weed out corruption and pilferage.
- There is no comment offered on free distribution of excess food grains rotting.
The author opines that giving benefit of subsidised food grains to poor families without restriction of family members will not be a good step. There should be some limit like 2 or 3 members per family . This will indirectly help the nation to reduce population and also reduce subsidy on food grains. Govt is not willing to decrease food grains procurement thus decreasing subsidy due to pulls in political circles. Nation should be above politics and only needy has to be served and needy also should know that they can’t increase members without any corresponding increase in income.They should not depend on govt fully for all their members. Population increase means more problems, more demand, increased price and hence inflation. So population control should be the main aim of any govt now as any drought in any year will bring lot of problems to govt and public. Consecutive draughts for 2 to 3 years will lead the nation to chaotic condition. We pray God ‘Better sense prevails over politics’. This is equally applicable to all developing countries.
C. R. Venkata Ramani