NEWDELHI: At a time when India is ranked way below many sub-Saharan countries on the Global Hunger Index, an unpardonable amount of 34,508 tonnes of food grains were damaged in the government’s own godowns thereby becoming “non-issuable”.
This shocking revelation has come to light after the Food Ministry sought data from Food Corporation of India (FCI) godowns across the country against the backdrop of controversies over the loss of grains in various States. The country lost both rice and wheat which were procured by the FCI. As per the Ministry report, the country lost 20,114 tonnes in 2008, 6,702 tonnes in 2009, 6,346 tonnes in 2010 and 1,346 tonnes in 2011.
“It is indeed a matter of shame that we have been losing this much amount of food grains at a time when nearly 50% of our children are underweight. The Ministry is concerned,’’ said a Food Ministry official.
The major excuse for the damage is “that there is a huge mismatch between the amount of food procured and the number of godowns.’’ Other excuses vary from “pest attack, leakage in godowns, procurement of poor quality of food grains, spillage during movement, exposure to rains, floods and negligence on the part of authorities in taking precautionary measures.’’
“The mismatch is a big issue and we are trying to tackle it with the help of warehousing corporations and private entrepreneurs. We are planning to enhance storage capacity by 151 lakh tonnes in the coming years,’’ said the official.
Among the southern states, Kerala lost the maximum amount of food grains — 216 tonnes — in the last three years. It is followed by Karnataka (161 tonnes), TN (14 tonnes) and Andhra Pradesh (3 tonnes).