PATNA: The Centre today directed Bihar Government to arrange for lifting its food grain quota between March to May from other states, latest by August 31.
Union Food and Public Distribution Minister Ramvilas Paswan told reporters here that the August 31 deadline would not be extended as his ministry might have to explain to the auditors about "favours" being doled out to Bihar.
"There is swelling public anger over non-distribution of subsidised foodgrain among the people for which the state government must arrange for lifting its quota for three months between March and May this year latest by August 31 and distribute the same among the beneficiaries without any further delay," he said.
Tightening the noose around the state government amid ongoing blame game between the Centre and Bihar over issues related to lifting of foodgrain quota of three months, Paswan asked the Bihar government to arrange for lifting the foodgrain quota on war footing so that the needy people could get subsidised food without any further delay.
The Union Minister said that the state does not have storage capacity and warehouse to keep the foodgrain supply and so it was blaming the Centre on one pretext or another.
Bihar has got storage capacity for 5.37 lakh tonnes foodgrains of which almost all infrastructure belongs to the Centre, Paswan said and slammed the State government for not augmenting storage capacity in the state at all.
All states must have storage capacity of at least four months' foodgrain and in Bihar's case it should have storage capacity for storing 16.36 lakh tonnes foodgrains for this duration, but the infrastructure was simply not there on ground, he said.
Paswan pointed out that while Bihar has failed to procure even a single grain of wheat this season, the procurement of rice stood at 2.86 lakh tonne against production of 8.27 lakh tonne.
With the State government facing the brunt of people's anger for not providing foodgrain quota to them under the National Food Security Act, which was implemented in Bihar with effect from March 4 last, he said that the State government had decided to implement the Central Act in haste without doing its homework.
The State government should have compiled figures about the number of beneficiaries entitled for subsidized foodgrain and issued fresh ration cards to them, but no exercise was done in this regard before implementing the central law in this regard, the Union Food and Public Distribution Minister
The State government has set a deadline of July 31 for issuance of new ration cards to all beneficiaries, he said.
Stating that the Food Security Act was enacted to ensure that no person should die of hunger, Paswan said that it was the responsibility of Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, Bihar Food and Consumer Protection Minister Shyam Rajak and himself, to ensure that the poor people received their foodgrain quota without further delay.
The Union Minister said that the State government should do its job properly to remove all bottlenecks about implementation of food law in Bihar for the benefit of the people.