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UPA brings Food Security ordinance but grains still rotting in the open


Rupashree Nanda, Jyoti Kamal, CNN-IBN
Jul 12, 2013 at 03:31pm IST

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New Delhi: While the Congress is pushing hard for the Food Security ordinance as its big election ticket for 2014 Lok Sabha polls, nothing has changed on the ground and the foodgrains are still rotting in the open. But Food Minister KV Thomas claimed that there is no rotting of grains and the damage has come down.

"There is no rotting. The damagae has come down form 2.5 per cent to 0.07 per cent.

The storage mechanism has improved. Last year was a challenging year as 69 lakhs was stored in the open," said Thomas.

The Food Minister said things should have gone faster but there are problems as these are Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model. In Punjab and Haryana, the state government agencies finally take over. "A decision has also been taken that new stock will come in only when the one-third of the godown will remain clean," he said.

CNN-IBN has been reporting on the crisis since 2010, following up ground reports with RTIs. It has been running a campaign to end this criminal waste but a concrete solution remains elusive. It was found that Prime Minister Manmohan Signh was aware of the food storage crisis and RTI responses had shown that the government ingored the problem. The Agriculture Minister had admitted that it was beyond him to contain the loss.

In 2010, CNN-IBN had reported on grains rotting from India's foodbowl Punjab and the bags of rotting grain tell the story of the government's neglect and inefficiency.

CNN-IBN had followed the report with RTI queries to understand why there was an acute lack of covered grain storage space. On the basis of RTI responses, CNN-IBN had learnt that even the Prime Minister was aware of the impending grain storage crisis.

PM's office had referred a letter to the Food Ministry, the then Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, exposed for his inability to save rotting grains. The minister had reversed a crucial policy, which no longer claimed that open storage was scientific.

"The real problem that I am facing as the Food Minister is the unavailability of enough storage," Sharad Pawar had said.

In 2011, CNN-IBN had again showed rotting grains from Punjab. The report had even found a mention in the Supreme Court which asked why did the government not distribute the foodgrain instead of letting it rot.

Despite the apex court's guidelines against grain wastage across the country it continues to happen.

In 2011, CNN-IBN had also reported from Pulawal showing how large amounts of procured wheat from Haryana were rotting and eight local officers were suspended.

In 2012, CNN-IBN had shown stark pictures of rotting foodgrain from Madhya Pradesh and in Rajasthan how food godowns were used for storing alcohol even as grains were left out in the open. Rajasthan will soon receive another two lakh metric tons of wheat as a part of FCI's movement plan to the state.

For years, it has been seen how India is desperately short of grain storage space and as a result vast amounts of foodgrain are rotting and despite the government promises to set things right the rot just goes on.

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