New law to redress issues in food distribution soon

Last Updated: Thursday, February 13, 2014 - 19:37

New Delhi: Admitting to shortcomings in the food distribution system and the menace of middlemen, Centre on Thursday said a new law has been formulated to redress issues and it has been sent to states for suggestions.
"There has been no decrease in production. But the distribution process through which it is being made available to people...There are some shortages. There are shortcomings in the law as well.

"To rectify it, the government has made a new Act and has been sent (it) to all the states for their comments," Minister of State for Agriculture Tariq Anwar today said.

"Central government is always blamed for price rise. But the fact is that till the distribution system does not get rectified, people will not be able to get the items properly," he said, adding that middlemen were taking advantage of the distribution system.

The minister came under attack from BJP after he said that wastage of food grains was not happening for the first time, and it was prevelant in developed countries as well.

"It is not that wastage is happening for the first time. It should not happen. It happens in European countries as well... That is why the government came out with a historic Food Security Bill," the minister said.

Attacking the government, BJP vice-president Smriti Irani said that the government failed to redress the issues hurting food distribution system in the country.

"Why warehousing has not been done? Why distribution network has not been strengthened? In food processing, only five per cent fruits and vegetables are processed in our country... Only 40 per cent get stored and reach the people. Around 60 percent goes as waste," Irani said.

Giving out data, Irani said that the number of warehouses in the country had come down to 407 from 499.

"This should have increased. Why this has decreased when production is increasing is something your government has to answer," she said.

She pointed out that in Gujarat, the state government was paying more to sugar cooperative societies for their production. However, the Centre had issued notice to them saying since one is paying more money to the farmers, one should pay more tax, she said.

However, Anwar maintained that the government was giving incentive for storage of foodgrains. He said that the country which used to import foodgrains, now exports it, and agriculture is playing an important role in the economy.

Speaking at the conclave, Sachin Pilot said that while inflation had gone up, people also had gained economically.

PTI
First Published: Thursday, February 13, 2014 - 19:37
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