The UPA government's proposed food safety bill is nothing more than a vote catching tool for Congress, BJP leader Kirit Somaiya said and expressed concern over wastage of food grains in the country.
Because of negligence on the part of the government, food grains worth Rs 58,000 crore go waste in the country every year. There is a lack of planning and adequate storage facility for food grains, he said.
"It's very unfortunate that at on one hand kids are dying of malnutrition in tribal areas of Maharashtra and on the other paddy stocks worth crores are lying in the open. Who will take the responsibility for this?" he asked.
The former Lok Sabha MP from Mumbai was speaking to reporters yesterday after visiting some paddy procurement centres, run by Tribal Development Corporation (TDC), near Gondia in Eastern Maharashtra.
"The proposed food safety bill of Congress is their vote safety bill in real sense. A government unable to prevent loss of foodgrains worth crores every year is talking of food safety for the poor. They should first make efforts to create adequate storage space for food grains," Somaiya said.
The landmark legislation aims at giving legal right over a uniform quantity of 5kg food grains at a fixed price of Rs 1-3 per kg via ration shops to 67% of the population. Main Opposition BJP has said it supported the food bill in principle.
"The paddy lying in open gets completely destroyed and it is not fit for even consumption by animals. The Congress-NCP government (in the state) is influenced by liquor lobby and that's why they are not serious about taking steps for preventing the food grains from rotting," Somaiya alleged.
"I have visited seven states and more than 55 procurement centres in the states like Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan and Odisha besides Maharashtra. Among these, Maharashtra has the worst storage facilities."
On the growing Naxal menace, the BJP leader said it is a national problem and there should be no politics over it. All parties should come together to formulate a comprehensive and strong anti-Naxal policy, he said.
Blasting Maharashtra's Congress-led coalition government, Somaiya said it is "neck deep" in corruption and this has halted growth of the state.