In a firefighting exercise to tackle severe shortage of storage facilities, Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee-led Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on food cleared offloading of 8 million tonnes (MT) of foodgrain on Tuesday.
“The EGoM has agreed to allocate additional 5 MT of foodgrain to BPL families and allow 3 MT of wheat through OMSS (Open Market Sale Scheme),” food minister K V Thomas said after the meeting.
Another proposal of the food ministry — to offload two MT for the APL (above poverty line) families — was, however, turned down as the EGoM observed that most of the states failed to lift its earlier quota of foodgrain for APL population.
The meeting was specially convened by Mukherjee — who otherwise has stopped taking policy decisions — as the Prime Minister wanted urgent action on bumper stock of foodgrain.
According to top sources, the food ministry initially wanted to allot wheat and rice of 8 MT for BPL families, 2 MT for APL families and 30 lakh tonnes of wheat for sale through tender up to March 2013. The EGoM’s decision of offloading will cost the exchequer R10,000 crore.
The food ministry, however, will have the flexibility to make state-wise allocation of foodgrain and determine the ratio of rice and wheat in re-allocation of foodgrain not lifted by states. The food stock reached 82 million tonnes as on June 1 against the total storage capacity of 63 million tonnes.
The Centre also decided to allow exports in a phased manner to ensure that there is no negative impact on domestic prices as well as international market.