Sunday, August 8, 2010


It is only recently that India is being viewed as a potential economic power because of the sustained GDP growth brought about by the opening up of the economy to global changes. The manufacturing and service sectors have contributed greatly to this reasonable boom though agriculture is increasingly being marginalized adversely affecting the fortunes of millions of farmers in the country side. Unbiased critics may be right in pointing out that the visible signs of development, excluding more than 70% of the population residing in the rural regions, has no meaning because the fruits of current development are getting concentrated in few hands with no percolation effect. The country is over dependent on imported edible oil and pulses in spite of massive investments on agriculture during the last two decades. Under such conditions wastage of food grains, what ever be the excuse, cannot be condoned as the number of hungry people in the country is substantial if recent reports by reputed international agencies are to be believed.

"RODENTS, MONKEYS and dogs eating away the food grains; poor food storage conditions and rain water flowing from the sacks of wheat in the godowns of Food Corporation of India are a disgrace to the nation. We have seen such pictures on different news channels. Many months have passed since a news channel first aired such reports but the situation has not improved. On the contrary, the Agriculture MinisterSharad Pawar and other officials are accusing media of repeatedly showing the same footage and exaggerating the issue. In Allahabad, more than one lakh wheat sacks are left in the open despite enough space in the godown. The godown is spread in nine acres of land. Similar situation is prevailing in Patna and Katihar godowns. Food grains are left in open without any care. In Haryana itself three lakh sacks of wheat got wasted in a warehouse due to floods. The Met department had issued flood warning to Punjab and Haryana before the arrival of monsoon. However, the precautions were not taken and the foodgrains continued to lie in open and low-lying area. Flood water entered the warehouse and damaged the food grains. Similarly, 4.5 lakh sacks of wheat estimated to be worth over Rs 25 crore were damaged due to rains at the FCI godown at Hapur in Ghaziabad. But when the media-persons contacted the FCI offficials, they quickly denied the impact of rain. The stock was meant to be picked up by the Uttar Pradesh government but it failed to do so in time. Foodgrain storage is a major issue in India as a large part of it gets wasted due to poor storage conditions. Every year it is the same story. Even Pawar admits that we need 140 tonnes of extra storage capacity. But the question arises why it has not been done till now".

Is there no accountability in this country with a great historical past, ruled not by cruel kings but by people's own elected representatives? If corporate management principles are applied probably no one in the administration will escape indictment or punishment for the negligence, callousness and insensitivity to public funds. Symbolic resignations or temporary admonition followed by rehabilitation of the tainted officials cannot be accepted and deterrent action of severe nature will only be understood. There must be an accountability mechanism before which all these inefficient, corrupt and good for nothing officials must be prosecuted for the unpardonable food "crimes" they commit in allowing valuable foods go waste.


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