States not lifting enough grain due to storage crunch: Thomas

Written by Sandip Das | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 7 2013, 09:30am hrs
The government on Tuesday admitted that lack of sufficient storage capacity and limited financial arrangements at the state level have led to lower foodgrain offtake under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) by most states.

This has led to the Centre holding on to huge foodgrain stock, which exceeds the requirement under strategic reserve and buffer stocks norms by a margin.

The record procurement of foodgrain in recent years had led to excess stocks in the central pool and most states fail to lift their entire quota of allotted foograin under TPDS and other welfare schemes, food minister KV Thomas said in the Lok Sabha.

This comes at a time when the government would be expanding the existing TPDS to cover more than 67% of the country's population through the national food security legislation.

At the start of the month, Food Corporation of India (FCI) had wheat stocks of more than 42 million tonne (mt) against the requirement of 20 mt . In case of rice, stocks are in excess of 31 mt against the norm of only about 12 mt.

In the last four fiscals, states have not been able to take the full delivery of grain mostly rice and wheat allocated under TPDS, which targets 6.52 crore below poverty line (BPL) families. Each BPL family is entitled to 35 kg each of rice and wheat every month at subsidised rates.

Some quantity of foodgrain remained unutilised as foodgrain are issued by the FCI on crop-year wise first in, first out principle.

Thomas said the food ministry has delegated powers to FCI officers to extend the validity period of lifting foodgrain by one month after its expiry. States have been allowed to lift six months quota under TPDS in advance, Thomas said.

Meanwhile, in a bid to get rid of excess wheat stocks, FCI has started the tendering process for shortlisting private agencies or traders, who would purchase 8.5 million tonne of foodgrain under the Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS).

The excess wheat stocks procured during the 2011-12 season would be sold to shortlisted private bulk buyers from Punjab and Haryana depots at a uniform rate of R1,500 per quintal.

On foodgrain needs for the food security bill, Thomas said: While we need about 62 mt of foodgrain for implementation of the food security law, FCI, during the last few years, has procured more than 75 mt of rice and wheat.