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HindustanTimes Mon,21 Apr 2014

Grain stored by FCI not counted

Samar Halarnkar and Bhadra Sinha, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, September 07, 2010
First Published: 02:58 IST(7/9/2010) | Last Updated: 03:56 IST(7/9/2010)

Admitting that the HT figure was correct, the ministry said, "But, we had calculated the figures differently." They did not, however, mention how the numbers were juggled initially.

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Pawar and his officials did not explain that the figure of 11,700 tonnes they were quoting only counted the grain rotting in state warehouses. They left out the grain stored by the Food Corporation of India, the nation's main repository of wheat and rice purchased from farmers.

On a day when the Prime Minister said he would prefer the judiciary not get involved in executive decisions, the SC examined the government's affidavit and said it would wait to hear from the petitioner, People's Union for Civil Liberties.

After first saying it was "not possible" to distribute the excess grain, now the government has agreed to allocate an additional quantity of 25 lakh tones of food grain for the next six months.

The government has, however, declined to accept the court's suggestion to limit procurement in view of limited storage space and also to abolish the above poverty line (APL).

Admitting that there is a need to augment the storage capacity, the government said procurement could not stop in the interest of farmers.

According to the affidavit, procurement of food grain has increased sharply in the last three years. In the current year, 53.77 million tonnes of food grain was purchased from farmers..

The government further told SC that its order asking a fresh survey of the BPL families in the country had been conveyed to the Planning Commission. A request to expedite framing of guidelines to conduct the survey too has been dispatched on September 3.

However, it said, families under the antyodaya anna yojana scheme have already increased from one crore to 2.50 crore households. Regarding the court's advice on distributing 35 kg of food grain at subsidised rates to 150 poorest districts, the government hasn't taken any decision.

"The government is actively considering enacting a law on food security and national advisory council is already examining the entire issue," the Centre told the Supreme Court.

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