PDS delivery impacted on truckers stir

Written by Commodities Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Jan 14 2009, 03:45am hrs
Even though the nationwide indefinite truckers strike was officially called off on Monday, the mammoth efforts of Food Corporation of India (FCI) and other state-owned agencies to allocate sufficient foodgrains to states for running various anti-poverty programmes like targeted public distribution system (TPDS), mid-day meal, nutrition programme etc was severely impacted due to the stir.

Official sources said despite the stir being called off, it would take some time before things become normal, as backlog would be huge as most fair price shops operate on very low inventories.

Although FCI has been ensuring that vital food grains like wheat, rice, sugar and coarse grains are supplied to state government without any hindrance through country wide network of food storage depots, the truckers strike had slowed down the delivery of food grains.

According to an FCI official, out of 1,517 depots run by FCI, 300 have dedicated rail sidings while 1,125 depots have connectivity with railways where some road transportation is involved from the railway siding to godowns.

However, depots mostly in the hilly states of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttrakhand and Northeast are mostly linked through truck network.

While the state governments are required to lift foodgrains allocated under TPDS and other welfare schemes from the base depots and transport it to their own godowns and also arrange for further distribution to fair price shops, there may have some delay due to truckers strike, a FCI official told FE.

FCI procures more than 16 million tonne of foodgrains per annum for ensuring sufficient supply to more than 20 crore BPL families, through TPDS.

However, the FCI official said that the government had instructed the respective state governments requesting them to make necessary arrangements for transportation of foodgrains from FCI godowns to their own godowns and further to the fair price shops so that distribution under TPDS is not adversely affected due to truckers strike.

Adequate stocks of wheat and rice are available with us which will be enough to meet demands for next four months barring some disruption in Manipur and Himachal Pradesh, the FCI official said.

Each year, the FCI purchases roughly 15-20% of the countrys wheat production estimated to be 78 million tonne and 12-15% of its rice production to the tune of around 75 million tonne.

Besides providing sufficient food grains to anti-poverty programme, the FCI also keeps foodgrains for bugger stocks and strategic reserves. It is estimated that FCI lifts food grains in range of 30 - 40 million tonne from farmers making it the largest buyer of grains in the world.