Rotting Grains Hungry People

In July 2010, the government while replying to a Right to Information (RTI) application, disclosed that 1.83 lakh tons of wheat, 6.33 lakh tons of rice and 2.2 lakh tons of raw rice got putrefied in tin different godowns of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) between 1997 and 2007. In response to another RTI application in 2012, the government averred that since 2008 no grains have rotted in  FCI warehousing facilities. In just 2 years what revolutionary changes were affected in the warehousing facilities of the FCI that no grains were found rotten? If such changes were brought about why is the FCI shying away from coming out with them in the public? Actually, if FCI comes out with these changes, they will help the State Warehousing Corporation to take some lessons.
In 2010, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had accepted that rotting of grains is an unfortunate reality. He had said that till July 2010 more than 11,700 tons of grains had been found rotten in government godowns. This grain was worth Rs. 6.86 crores. He revealed that 7.36 lakh tons of grains had been found rotten in government warehouses between 2000-01 and 2009-10. This was the period during which the Supreme Court of India had reprimanded the government, saying that the rotting grains better be distributed among the poor.

Every year, 10.7 per cent of the total food grains produced in India get putrefied. Of this a lot gets wasted because of being kept in the open and the rest gets wasted due to improper handling in government warehouses. Every year 60 lakh tons of grains either rot or are eaten by rats. The impression one gets, thanks to a Right to Information (RTI) application, is that rats have taken over the administration of Food Corporation of India (FCI)  godowns. On the one hand the government is trying to table the Right to Security Bill in Parliament which is taking more than required time while on the other hand it is trying to hide the reality of food grain warehousing.

This was supposed to be a direction and not an advice. Every year, 10.7 per cent of the total food grains produced get putrefied. Of this a lot gets wasted because of being kept in the open and the rest gets wasted due to improper handling in government warehouses. According to the International Food Policy Research Institute, India is home to half the total number of hungry people in the world. India stands at the 67th position in the Global Hunger Index of 2011. People are dying of hunger in the country while the government departments are churning statistics. According to the Union Agriculture Minister, the government suffered a loss of Rs. 3 crores in 2009 and a loss of Rs. 6 crores in 2010 due to rotting of grains. Every year 60 lakh tons of grains either rot or are eaten by rats. The impression one gets, thanks to a RTI application, is that rats have taken over the administration of FCI godowns.
At least the rats eat the grains rather than letting them rot. Perhaps this is what happened in Allahabad. In one of the FCI godowns in Allahabad, 50,000 metric tons of rice and wheat were found missing. The workers said that this shortfall in the stock was owing to the menace of rats. This answer of the FCI,  as well as the recent onewhich claims that no grains have rotted in its godowns since 2008 is  childish. It seems that this response has been crafted to evade the directions of the Supreme Court which had directed that not a single grain should be left to rot. Now, if the FCI accepts that it has got rotten grains it will have to make efforts to distribute the grains free to the poor but it seems that the government does not want to do this at all. Can the government come out with such a false answer? On the one hand the government is trying to table the Right to Security Bill in Parliament which is taking more than the time required while on the other hand it is trying to hide the reality of food grain warehousing.

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