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No funds for storing food grains: RTI
New Delhi, NOV 28 (AGENCIES):
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Published on 29 Nov. 2010 12:48 AM IST
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The Food Corporation of India (FCI) remains malnourished when it comes to storing food grain and CNN-IBN through an Right to Information (RTI) initiative finds out that the flaws in the 11th five year plan are to be blamed. A meager amount of Rs149 crore are allocated to meet FCI’s demand for Rs 285 crore and a storage capacity of 3 Lakh Metric Tonne (LMT) is sanctioned against a demand of 7 LMT.
More than 200 LMT of food grain lies dumped in the open and is vulnerable to damage. Yet the government of India did not set side even Rs 300 crore for the construction of godowns.
Papers accessed by CNN IBN through an RTI show that the Finance Ministry and Planning Commission decided not to make adequate investment in the country’s food storage, despite being made aware of the acute shortage in storage space and despite the FCI asking for more. In the run up to the 11th plan, the Finance Ministry says all schemes, including construction of godowns, must be evaluated before being continued.
FCI entrusts the work to MANAGE (National Insititute of Agricultural Extension Management). MANAGE submitted a report in March 2007, saying there is a storage gap of 90 LMT across India and the cost for building is Rs 4000 crore. It also identifies Andhra Pradesh, with a capacity of 24.50 LMT, Chhattisgarh, with a capacity of 10.64 LMT, Orissa, with a capacity of 10.16 LMT, and Punjab, with a capacity of 7.45 LMT as the worst hit areas.
The FCI set aside MANAGE report that calls for high investment, instead saying that a capacity of 7.84 LMT is needed, at a cost of Rs 285.25 crore. To this, the Food Ministry said that the Planning Commission will allocate just Rs 149 crore, forcing the FCI to cut storage capacity to 3.34 LMT, which is half the required capacity. However, the FCI candidly admits that the actual number of godowns built could be far lesser than required.
The reduced allocation forced the Food Ministry and the FCI to look at the private sector. Ironically, the initial scheme floated to attract private investment had to be altered twice before it attracted any investors at all.
While thousands of tonnes of food grain still remain rotten, the mantra of the concerned ministers including deputy chairman of Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, minister of consumer affairs, food and public distribution, Sharad Pawar and prime minister Manmohan Singh, remains cannot build, cannot store and cannot give.

 
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