Wastage of foodgrains: Criminal action against FCI

New Delhi: The Government on Tuesday said that criminal action would be taken against Food Corporation of India officials in Uttar Pradesh who are responsible for causing foodgrain wastage by storing it in the open during the rainy season.

"I have discussed the matter a dozen times with the authorities concerned, but nothing has been done. I have told the FCI Chairman and Managing Director that he should immediately take suspension action. If possible, criminal action should be taken against the officers concerned," Food and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said.

His comments assume importance amid reports that thousands of tonnes of wheat was ruined during the rains as it was kept in open.

"In certain places of Uttar Pradesh, foodgrains are not kept properly. This is the rainy season and they need to cover them at least by tarpaulin. But that was not done," Pawar said.

Wastage of foodgrains is not an unknown phenomenon in India as the country has insufficient storage capacity to keep it safe and secure for future use, or utilisation under the public distribution system for feeding the poor.

The government had procured around 38.7 million tonnes of wheat and rice in 2006-07, 51.6 million tonnes in 2007-08 and 60.4 million tonnes in 2008-09. During the current year, till recently, the government has procured 51.3 million tonnes.

The total gap of storage capacity in the country is estimated to be around 140 lakh tonnes. Sensing that it is not possible for state agencies to fill the gap by themselves, the government has invited private parties to invest in the sector.