This refers to Pankaj Vohra’s article It’s time to wield the stick, Mr PM (Between Us, August 9). The Congress has run out of achievements to boast of. The UPA has failed to implement most of its policies. Be it the Kashmir conundrum, dialogue with Pakistan, hordes of scams related to the Commonwealth Games, the lack of funds for either the mid-day meal scheme or the rural employment guarantee scheme or insurgency, the Centre has failed to deliver.
Gaurav Pant, Pantnagar
No grain of truth here
The report Rot in FCI deep, investors loath to take plunge (July 29) incorrectly states that there are neither uniform criteria nor fixed rates and the owners are at the mercy of Food Corporation of India (FCI) officials for rent fixation. The 128 godowns, which the report mentions, have a 7-year guarantee and have been constructed by private entrepreneurs through Punjab State Warehousing Corporation (PSWC) in 2001-02. The FCI pays rent equivalent to that payable for Central Warehousing Corporation, which is decided by the government. There is no agreement of private investors with the FCI with respect to these godowns. In fact, the FCI has no role in deciding the rent that PSWC pays to investors. It’s also incorrect that private godown owners received a jolt when the FCI informed them about its decision to reduce the monthly rent from
R2.40 to 80 paise per square foot. There is no question of the FCI deciding to reduce the rates. It is further mentioned that the rent could be restored to R2.40 with the intervention of chief minister of Punjab, which again is a matter between PSWC and private investors. So, the report published by Hindustan Times is false. It states that the criterion of godowns is changed from Actual Utilisation Basis (AUB) to General Hiring Basis (GHB) with retrospective effect. No such case has been observed. The Mukatsar centre, whose example has been cited, was closed for rice acceptance between 2006-08 because of problems created by millers there. They have been found to be involved in the delivery of BRL rice to the FCI and a conscious decision was taken to not operate this centre. But, as there was storage requirement in 2008-09, the centre was re-opened. Today, it’s being utilised and rent is also being paid to PSWC for full capacity. The baseless aspersions cast on the FCI officials are resented. The feedback has been reportedly taken from private godown owners whose only aim is to get undue benefit by creating an atmosphere of pressure.
K. Malleswari, General Manager, PR, FCI
Our correspondent replies
The report is based on documents and the views expressed by godown owners in Punjab. It also contains the version of the FCI’s senior regional manager (Punjab). The FCI pays different rates to different godowns — set up in Punjab as per FCI specifications under Phase I-IV during 1977-82. The FCI SRM is on record to say that there is no uniform policy on the rates for hiring godowns. After the godown owners spoke to the government, the Union Food Ministry in its letter (28-1/98-FC-II) dated July 29, 1998, to the then FCI managing director had also pointed out similar problems. It read: “It has been noticed that FCI after expiry of a lease has not renewed the same and have (sic) arm twisted the owners to make an offer of an unrealistically (sic) low rent. This has been done under duress due to the fear of having no payments for years and other victimisation. This monopolist situation is unfair and should never have been followed by a Government Organisation. To obviate this problem, FCI is directed not to reduce rent/under any pretext when there is a demand for godown/plinths.” The PSWC had signed agreements with the godown owners intending to reduce the monthly rate from R2.40 to 80 paise. It had cited an FCI circular to the godown owners to support its decision. Hindustan Times has the copies of all such records. In 2008-09, the FCI officials were involved in
first placing godowns under the AUB category from the GHB and restored their status to GHB after a few months. HT had sought the SRM’s comments and incorporated the same in the news report.