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Apex court sore over foodgrain wastage

Monday, October 18, 2010 07:28:24 PM, IANS

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court Monday expressed concern over the "gigantic" amount of foodgrain getting rotten and becoming unfit for human consumption because of improper storage.

"We are not able to comprehend the loss of the huge amount of foodgrain. It is a gigantic amount. Your admission is that it was 7,000 tonnes. If that is so, even then this is very much," said an apex court bench of Justice Dalveer Bhandari and Justice Deepak Verma Monday.

The apex court said this after Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Mohan Parasaran contested the stand of the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) that in Punjab and Haryana 67,539 tonnes of foodgrain got rotten in the year 2008-09.

The ASG said that the actual foodgrain that had got rotten in the two states was 7,000 tonnes.

"What you have wasted is fine but some that is likely to be wasted (at least that) could be made available to the poor," said Justice Bhandari.

However, the court clarified that it was not suggesting that rotten foodgrain be distributed.

At another point during the hearing, the court observed that the central government could have done some evaluation of the wastage of foodgrain in other countries and taken steps to reduce it within the country.

The central government told the court that on the principle of giving 35 kg of foodgrain to each of the family living below poverty line (BPL) there was no conflict with the states, but there were differences on the criterion for identifying the BPL families.

While senior counsel Colin Gonsalves, appearing for PUCL, argued that the number of BPL families was much larger compared to the figures given by central government, Parasaran said that based on revised poverty estimates and the 2009 population estimates the number of BPL families stood at 5.90 crore, which was less than the 6.52 crore BPL families covered under the scheme.

However, to a pointed query by Justice Verma whether the central government would be able to supply 35 kg foodgrain to each of the BPL families if the state provides it with exact figures, ASG Parasaran said that the identification of BPL families has to be on the basis of the already approved guidelines.

The ASG told the court that the National Advisory Council (NAC) was considering the entire issue pertaining to food security coverage and a decision would be taken by the government after considering its (NAC) recommendations.









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