Taking serious note of food shortage in parts of the state despite their being enough food grains in godowns, the Bombay high court on Thursday pulled up the state government and asked why it failed to provide the entire quota of food grains sanctioned by the Centre.
A public interest litigation filed by the Sharmik Mukti Sanghatana states that no food grains are available at ration shops in tribal-dominated Shahapur and Murbad tehsils in Thane district.
In a stinging critique of the government response, a division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice Roshan Dalvi observed while people were dying of starvation, the government was not providing them food grains available with it.
The HC also noted that the government failed to lift over four lakh metric tonne of grains sanctioned by the Centre between April and October this year. Of the 23 lakh metric tonne sanctioned by the Centre, the state had lifted only 19 lakh metric tonne from the godown.
During the hearing, joint secretary of food and civic supplies, Umakant Dangat, told the court that in the case of the two tehsils mentioned in the PIL, even though there were enough grains available in the godowns of the Food Corporation of India, the district supply officer for Thane had been unable to lift them.
The court was told that this was because the ‘mathadi’ workers had gone on strike.
Noting that the entire process of distribution by the ministry should be monitors, the judges suggested that a mechanism be set up, and the information uploaded on a website.
The court has directed the government to file an affidavit by December 19 on all these issues.