Official data has revealed that the amount of food grains wasted in Food Corporation of India (FCI) godowns in the state has increased by an astonishing 10 times over the last two years.
The alarming state was revealed in the Lok Sabha recently after Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, K V Thomas tabled a statement in reply to a query by Chalakkudy M P K P Dhanapalan. Dhanapalan had asked about the amount of damaged food grains in various godowns in the country and the minister’s reply revealed that the stock accrued as damaged or nonissuable in FCI godowns in the state had grown from 19 tons in 2009-10 to 99 tons in 2010-11 to 200 tons in 2011-12.
The data shows that the amount wasted by the state went from being 0.28 per cent of the national total in 2009-10 to nearly 6 per cent two years later.
Officials within the state wing of the FCI, however, sought to downplay the statement saying that the bulk of damage was being done before they even receive the grains.
“The amount of grains damaged while being stored in our facilities is not this high. Most of the grains are damaged when the states from which they are being procured undergoes significant climatic changes such as a flood or a drought. A significant percentage is also caused by transit damage due to leaky compartments in the trains they are being transported in. And whatever small damage happens here is due to a lack of space in our storage facilities,” said an FCI official on condition of anonymity.
Food Affairs Minister Anoop Jacob too admitted that there was a shortage of storage space in FCI godowns in the state and said that his dept would take steps to rectify this. “The problem is that while the central govt has no problem allotting the funds to built additional storage space, we cannot find the space to build these facilities on. I have asked officials to identify space to construct more storage facilities immediately,” he said.