The states have not been lifting the entire volume of foodgrains allocated by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) for the various social sector schemes including National Food Security Act (NFSA), mid-day meal and other welfare schemes for the past many years due to inadequate storage facilities.
According to official data, in FY16, only 84% of wheat and 94% of rice allocated to states for distribution for various social sector programmes have been lifted, which results in delay in availability of subsidised foodgrains to beneficiaries.
In 2012-13, only 89% of the rice and 76% of wheat allocated for implementation of various welfare schemes were lifted by the states. In the subsequent year, 85% of rice and 85% of wheat earmarked for states by FCI were taken possession of by state government-owned agencies.
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In the current fiscal so far (April-November 2016) only 62% of rice allocated to states have been lifted by them while 73% of allocation in case of wheat has already been taken possession by states. With only a couple of months left in the current fiscal, states would not be lifting entire foodgrains allocated under social sector schemes this fiscal as well.
The states’ inability to create adequate foodgrain storage infrastructure has led to lower lifting of grains against allocation, thus impacting implementation of welfare programmes, food ministry sources said. The centre provides foodgrains mostly consisting of rice and wheat mainly for implementation of NFSA, mid-day meal, welfare institutions and hostels for SC/STs students and defence forces.
An official said that following the implementation of NFSA by all states and union territories, states will have to upgrade the grain storage facilities for avoiding delays in grain distribution to a large number of beneficiaries. Against the coverage of around 55 crore under earlier Targetted Public Distribution System, NFSA envisages providing highly subsidised foodgrains to 82 crore population.
As per food security legislation, total estimated outgo of foodgrains is expected to be around 61.44 MT.
“A number of states with substantial number of poor families are yet to create adequate long-term storage facilities which often led to delay in offtake,” the official said.
Bigger states, including Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha, have not taken delivery of entire quantity of foodgrain allocated under various welfare schemes.
The High Level Committee (HLC) for FCI restructuring chaired by former food minister Shanta Kumar had recommended that targetted beneficiaries under NFSA are given six months ration immediately after the procurement season ends.
This will save the consumers from various hassles of monthly arrivals at Fair Price Shops and also save on the storage costs of agencies. Consumers can be given well designed bins at highly subsidised rates to keep the rations safely in their homes.
Food ministry officials said that states have to revamp their storage facilities before taking up such an initiative.