SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir government Monday decided not to procure low-grade rice and wheat from Food Corporation of India (FCI), asking the government of India-owned distributor to immediately withdraw inferior-quality food grains from its godowns in Kashmir Valley.
The decision was made and announced by the Minister for Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution (CAPD), Choudhary Zulfkar Ali, in a meeting with officers of FCI and CAPD department.
“The government rejects procurement of low-grade wheat and rice stock to keep its promise and determination of providing quality essentials to the people,” he told the meeting, asking FCI “to immediately lift the poor-quality wheat from the godowns and replace it with quality stocks”.
“Ensure supply of quality rice. Make sure that no such low-grade commodities are supplied to CAPD godowns in future or else the government will have to rethink dealings with FCI,” he said.
As per 2011 census, Jammu and Kashmir is home to 22.3 lakh consumer families. It is, however, supplied food grains by FCI for just 18.2 lakh families on the basis of 2001 census.
The deficit-hit state recently announced to supply food grains to people as per the 2011 census “with or without the support from the government of India (GoI)”. And to overcome the shortfall, the CAPD minister, in a meeting in New Delhi last week, asked the GoI to consider providing 9.50 lakh MT of food grains to the state annually.
It, however, is the first instance when the state has raised objections on the quality of food grains supplied by FCI. It followed the minister’s surprise visits to FCI’s godowns at Shaheed Gunj here and at Lethpora on Sunday.
Ali instructed the Director CAPD to ensure that the department’s Assistant Director checks the quality of wheat, rice, and other essential commodities before accepting them.
Regarding the issue of use of various godowns of the department, he asked FCI to vacate the godowns “as the department is facing shortage of space for storage of essential commodities”.
Meanwhile, the meeting decided to set up check posts in various districts to check pilferage of essential commodities. The check posts would be jointly managed by functionaries of FCI and CAPD department, it decided.
The minister exhorted upon the officers to “further intensify” checking and “effective monitoring” for strict enforcement of various laws and Acts of the department aimed at protection of consumers’ rights.
He asked for strong synergy between FCI and CAPD department “for timely implementation of end-to-end computerisation”.