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Food grains: BJP for separate Cabinet ministers

mumbai Updated: Sep 02, 2010 02:11 IST
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Alleging that food grains worth Rs 50,000 crore are in a danger of getting spoiled due to improper storage, the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) demanded that separate cabinet ministers be appointed for the ministries of Agriculture and Food and Civil Supplies.

“Nearly 180 lakh metric tonnes of food grains are kept in the open in government warehouses. The estimated value of this, which are in danger of getting spoiled, is nearly Rs 50,000 crore,” BJP senior leader Venkaiah Naidu said on Wednesday. He added that the government was acting in a “callous and casual manner” in treating and safeguarding valuable food grains.

Taking matter into their own hands, the party has also deputed a team of leaders to check the status of warehouses across 22 locations across the country.

The Opposition, including BJP, has been targetting Pawar for his handling of the food grain crisis.

"Ministries as important as agriculture and food and civil supplies should have their own independent cabinet ministers. The present minister [Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar] is already burdened with these, along with other considerations like cricket and IPL," Naidu said.

The BJP also demanded that a joint parliamentary committee be set up to look into the matter. "The committee should inquire into the functioning of the Food Corporation of India, rotting of food grains and the losses caused to the exchequer," Naidu said.

He also demanded that the government expedite the construction of warehouses in village panchayats, tehsils and district levels and subsidise the construction of warehouses.

There is severe lack of storage space in warehouses. The yearly procurement of food grains in the country is pegged at 60 million tones, while the storage capacity is only 40 million tonnes.

‘Will announce name of city BJP chief soon'’

Senior BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu, who is in charge of the party affairs in Maharashtra, held a three-hour long closed door meeting with party leaders to sort out the deadlock over appointment of a new BJP city chief.

"We will announce the name of the new president soon," Naidu said. The frontrunners for the post include corporator Ashish Shelar and former MLA Raj Purohit.

Gopal Shetty, the incumbent BJP city president, was appointed to the post in April 2008.