In such a critical situation when millions of people in the country are suffering from hunger or even dying, the Indian government seems reluctant about the wastage of food grains. In the last 4 months of about 65 lakh tonnes of grain got wasted that were stocked in the godowns.
Excess stock demands storage facilities that are suitable for dumping a large amount of grain; otherwise, it will get damaged. But the government does not facilitate such conditions. Tonnes of food grains are kept open under tarpaulin sheets that make it vulnerable to fungus and moisture. This condition not only deteriorates the food quality but can also become prone to deadly diseases. On one hand, the amount of grain being damaged or are partially spoilt, in the godowns, increased from 7.2 lakh tonnes to 71.8 lakh tonnes in just 4 months—from January to May, and on the other, these grains were not readily issued to the needy people. Reports also claim that the amount of rice and wheat that were distributed through PM Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana (PMGKAY), during the coronavirus crisis, was much less than that of the amount of food grain that got wasted.
The Wastage of Grains in India has a Quite Old Record
In 2017-2018, India experienced a bumper crop. Despite that, over 190 million people during this year went hungry with $14 billion of grain wastage. Between 2011 and 2017, 62,000 tonnes of grains were wasted. In the year 2016-2017, records claim 8600 tonnes, between 2009-July 2012 at least 17,546 tonnes (7185 tonnes of wheat & 6905 tonnes of rice) of wasted grain. According to WHO (World Health Organization), “A minimum of 250gms food grains is required per person per day to survive. The cumulative loss could feed at least 7 crore people”
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It has been about three years that the FDI (Food Corporation of India) is relaxing over the sack of excess food grains and the reason behind this is the effortlessness of the Indian government that does not will to expand the schemes like Public Distribution System or opening of more ration outlets through which subsidized food grains can be provided to the poor’s in this extreme crisis.
However, on March 26th, the Finance Minister declared that, under the PMGKAY, 80 crore individuals that are roughly 2/3rd of India’s population “would be provided double of their current entitlement over the next three months” and “this additionally would be free of cost”. But after this also, a survey of 1737 households says that about 89% of respondents of Bihar, 63% of Jharkhand, and 69% of Madhya Pradesh did not receive the free rations.
Not taking into account what the reasons are, for which the government is stocking such a large amount of grains, the grain could still have been used strategically to meet the crisis of this time and prevent people from hunger and death. Free distribution of the grains or food-for-work progammes (giving food instead of wages) were some of the options that the government could have easily opted for, to ensure that not a single people is in short of food, instead of wasting those amidst the critical surroundings.
Source: Scroll, New Indian Express, TOI