The Supreme Court on Monday ticked off the Government after it discovered that 67,539 tonnes of food grains rotted in godowns in Punjab and Haryana during 2009-10 and not just 7,000 tonnes as claimed by the Centre.
A Bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and Deepak Verma said it was an "extremely serious matter" and sought to know what action was taken against those responsible for it.
"From October you will be getting more food grains from kharif crops. Ensure it is properly distributed. Let it not go waste," it said.
During the hearing of Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) petition on corruption in public distribution system (PDS), Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Mohan Parasaran said that only 7,000 tonnes of food grains rotten in FCI godowns in Punjab and Haryana.
But the court found from records before it that 67,539 tonnes (55,121 tonnes in Punjab and 12,418 tonnes in Haryana) were wasted in the godowns during 2009-10.
"Even if it is 7,000 tonnes, how can it happen? It is an extremely serious matter. You compare the wastage world over. The damage done in two states is very high. What action you have taken against the officials?
"People are dying of hunger. You are not providing them grain. This litigation has been going on for the past 10 years..." the Bench, which had earlier ordered the Government to distribute food grains free of cost to the hungry poor, said.
Senior counsel Colin Gonsalves, on behalf of PUCL, said the government has 55 million tones available in stocks. Of the remaining 22 million tonnes buffer stock, the government has an additional 33 million tonnes of food grains. He alleged that despite this, the Centre was allocating only a meagre 2.5 million tonnes for BPL families through PDS.
The court also took exception to delay in the BPL survey.