Under the proposal sent to finance ministry, the food ministry has proposed to hike grain allocation for the estimated 18 crore APL families to 15 kg per month from prevailing 10 kg per month. This will result in excess grains allocation of 6.5 million tonne.
Besides, the food ministry has also recommended increase in grain allocation to 2.5 crore families covered under Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY), which focusses on the poorest amongst 6.5 crore BPL families covered under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS). Under the proposal the grain allocation to AAY is to be increased from current level of 15 kg to 20 kg per families.
We need the finance ministry nod for extra allocation of grain, which would deal with the storage crunch issue, BC Gupta, secretary, Department of Food and Public Distribution told FE.
According to the estimate, the food subsidy bill has already crossed R88,000 crore during last fiscal. If the food ministrys proposal is accepted, the food subsidy bill is expected to cross R1 lakh crore.
The food ministry proposal comes when the countrys grain stocks held with the FCI and state government owned procuring agencies has crossed all time record of 71 million tonne at the start of this month mainly attributed to record rice and wheat procurement drive. FCI has a storage capacities of around 62 million tonne
The current grain stocks are far more than strategic reserve and buffer stocks norms of 21 million tonne prescribed on April 1.
Food secretary Gupta also said that if the current trend in wheat procurement continues, the grain stocks is expected to touch 75 million tonne by June 1.
Meanwhile, food minister K V Thomas on Thursday hinted at possibilities of exporting wheat from the central governments excess stocks. We are looking at export of wheat from our stocks. There are some countries like Uganda, some Gulf nations, Afghanistan and Pakistan, who need wheat, Thomas said.
The panel headed by Prime Ministers Economic Advisory Council (PMEAC) chairman C Rangarajan, set up to look into excess grain stocks, will examine the matter, Thomas noted.
In anticipation of bumper wheat output estimated at 90.2 million tonne (mt), the government has set a record procurement target of close to 32 mt against a lifting of 28.33 mt last year. FCI had recently brought to the notice of food ministry that India could see unprecedented levels of grain being destroyed because of lack of storage capacity.