One-third of India's food reserves left to rot
Rupashree Nanda , CNN-IBN
Posted on Jul 25, 2010 at 08:06 | Updated Jul 25, 2010 at 08:5
New Delhi: Even as one third of India's food reserves rot in the open, an internal note of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) warns of more waste saying there is a lack of adequate storage space.
The FCI's warning comes at a time when 168 lakh metric tonnes, which is almost one-third of India's food reserves, lies unprotected in the open. Despite full knowledge of the precarious condition of food grains, governments, both at the centre and in states, were unable to protect the country's precious food reserves.
A conservative estimate would put the cost of food grains currently lying unprotected at a staggering Rs 28,000 crore, enough to feed at least 2 crore people for over one year.
In India, the Food Corporation of India is responsible for storing the grain apart from procuring and distributing it. However, its total covered capacity is only 25 million tonnes - one third of the total stocks it currently holds.
What is shocking is that the Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar doesn't sound very worried though he admits that the shortage of space is an issue.
"Sometimes, some things happen. I admit that we are short of storage space. Next year things will be better," says Pawar.
CNN-IBN has now found out that over the last ten years the FCI did not have a long term food storage plan. When food reserves were low the FCI gave away storage space for 120 lakh metric tonnes. And when panic hit the ceiling, it began looking for storage space in November 2009.
An internal note of the FCI, now possessed by CNN-IBN, paints a scary picture.
It says the FCI is unable to moves stocks after procuring and that it is not easy to carry out fumigation, thus making preservation difficult.
The note also warns that the food grain stocks stored in the open in Punjab and Haryana may deteriorate.
At present, the FCI is bearing the brunt of criticism. However, the government and the Agriculture Ministry too cannot escape blame.
The apathy of the people and officials responsible for feeding millions may result in more losses in years to come.
The big question which needs to be answered is whether anyone would be held responsible for this seemingly criminal negligence.