There is a stink in the Godown.
‘There is a stink in the godown’ says the Indian Express special report about rotting foodgrains in Punjab. This article could have been an important contribution to the discussion surrounding Right to Food legislation, poverty line, food availability, and above all the current impasse in parliament over holding price rise debate. Unfortunately, the following graphics from the report have figures that look untrustworthy.
Reportedly the figures are in Lakh MTS, and obviously Rice damaged in Punjab for 2002-03 can’t be 102159 Lakh MTS, when the total cereal production in India previous year was 206,637 Lakh MTS and rice purchased in Punjab for central pool next year was mere 86.62 lakh MTS. But another set of figures from the following snippet look reliable.
Food Corporation of India (FCI) currently has 600 lakh MTS of stock of which 179 lakh MTS is lying in the open even in this rainy season because the storage capacity is for only 419 lakh MTS. Against this the government is quibbling over poverty head count and where to draw the poverty line, and moreover wants to whittle the per family entitlement of food from 35 KGS to 25 KGS. At 35 KGS/ Month, the “entitlement” of one family for whole year works out to 420 KGS (there is real pun in the figure). Therefore, 179 Lakh MTS grains stored in the open would feed 426 Lakh households or 4.26 crore families or say 4% of our population. On one had we wrestle with colossal wastage through monumental neglect, apathy and corruption, but are very alert in defending the rich against the supposed “largesse” made out to poor through NREGA or Right to Food as populism or gimmicks.