The Food Corporation of India (FCI) has taken back its demand of pre-payment for food grains before allowing states to pick up the grains under the government's mid-day meal scheme.
The climb down follows a report by the Hindustan Times on the payment spat between the FCI and the human resource development ministry that had resulted in a shortage of grains, thus threatening to disrupt the mid-day meal programme — the world's biggest cooked-meal programme aimed at combating malnutrition and pulling poor children into schools.
The FCI had refused to allow states to lift foodgrains because it wanted the ministry to pay before procuring the grain.
The ministry was insistent on payment after procurement, the practice it had followed since the scheme's inception in 1995. The standoff, if not resolved, would have affected 117.7 million children.
"Following the report in HT and under pressure from various quarters including states which were running out of foodgrain, the FCI and the Department of Food and Public Distribution have agreed to our terms of payment," a senior HRD Ministry official said.