Cuttack: Absolute, ravaging hunger has driven slum dwellers in Odisha to dig up wasted food grain by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and eat it for their survival. The 1,206 bags of PDS rice belonging to the FCI were supposed to feed empty stomachs. Instead, they lay rotting in Cuttack's railway goods shed for the last nine months, stuck in a red-tape tussle between the railways and the FCI over storage issues.
Finally on Wednesday, the Railways buried the 1,206 bags of rice near Cuttack.
Surprisingly, a significant amount of the rice was apparently in good condition and though the poor locals pleaded the authorities, they were not allowed to take away the rice.
"We saw that the rice was in good condition. So we wanted to take it home. I don't understand why they dumped this rice here. They could have distributed it to us. When they were dumping it, we asked them to give it to us but they refused," said a local resident.
"There should be proper enquiry into this matter so that this does not get repeated. When many people in the state sleep hungry every day, these unfortunate incidents are happening. Those responsible should be punished," another local resident said.
An FIR has been filed in Jagatsinghpur police station against the Railway authorities by two local leaders of Cuttack. The FCI has denied any accountability in the matter.
FCI manager Sanjay Padhi said, "We received the rice in damaged state in 2011. So we rejected it and sent it to the Railways. The further course of action was taken by the Railways."
Locals have demanded a probe and strict action against the callous and apathetic attitude of the officials leading to such criminal wastage of food grain.