India has no ‘diseased grain’ to give: Shanta

Thiruvananthapuram, January 21: | Updated: Jan 22 2002, 05:30am hrs
Union food and consumer affairs minister Shanta Kumar, on Monday, has taken strong reservations to Pakistan’s charge that the wheat provided by India to Pakistan was disease-ridden. He was reacting to the allegations made by Pakistan that the country would not allow passage of Indian wheat to Afghanistan through Pakistan since the Indian wheat may contaminate the Pakistani wheat.

What makes the whole allegation absurd is that wheat situation in India was never in a pinker state of health than now, he told mediapersons in a meet-the-press organised by Thiruvananthapuram Press Club. “Our country is sitting on a 400 billion tonne food mountain. We have wheat stocks of 80 million tonne. India has decided to donate one million tonne to Afghanistan. Pakistan has charged about the current movement of just 15 tonne of wheat. There is no reason why we should send diseased wheat to Afghanistan when we have so much good quality wheat,” he said.

Regarding Pakistan not allowing free passage to Indian grain cargo going to Afghanistan, the minister said that it was the headache of United Nations organisations. It was the World Health Organisation (WHO) programme that was taking initiative in carrying Indian wheat to Afghanistan.

The charges of ‘diseased grain’ from India is astonishing because it comes at a moment when the country is on a quality-drive in grain production and procurement, Mr Kumar said. The Centre has decided to tighten its norms on quality when procuring grains, he said.