June 15, 2024

The Bihar

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Centre’s Ultimatum to Bihar for Lifting Backlog of Foodgrains

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paswanCriticising the Bihar government for not lifting foodgrains allotted to the state for public distribution, the Centre has given it an ultimatum to complete the exercise by August 31.

In a letter to Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, Union Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said there are “serious deficiencies” in the action plan presented by the state government for lifting foodgrains of about 7 lakh tonnes meant for public distribution system (PDS).

Paswan said keeping in view administrative difficulties faced by the state a decision was earlier taken that the state government would lift the foodgrains from railways and the state was supposed to present a clear action plan in this regard.

He also said that the action plan submitted by the Bihar government on July 7 has once again left the responsibility of lifting the foodgrains from railway racks to FCI.

Paswan said this was contrary to the earlier decision taken in a meeting between him and the chief minister on June 27 in which the state government had taken the responsibility to lift the grains directly from the Railways.

“Despite these facts and the situation, the time to lift the backlog of foodgrains allocated for the March-June period has been extended till August 31,” he said. As per the action plan, the state will have to lift 25,000 tonnes of foodgrains on a daily basis. As many as 10 rail rack will be made available for this purpose, he said.

He also requested the state government to prepare a clear daily action plan to lift the backlog keeping in view the administrative and practical aspects. “There is no need to say that if 100 per cent backlog is not lifted by August 31, there won’t be further extension,” he added.

As per the official data, the state government has lifted only 9.49 lakh tonnes of foodgrains out of 16.39 lakh tonnes allocated for March-June period of this year. Paswan has written a similar letter to state Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Shyam Razak last week.

“The state government has not lifted foodgrains meant for the poor despite being given extensions as a special case. It is putting the blame on the Centre accusing it of not releasing foodgrains. It is doing this just to hide its own deficiencies,” Paswan told PTI.

Generally 50 days time is given to states to lift PDS foodgrains for a particular month. “In the case of Bihar, since the state government did not lift foodgrains during March-June in time and requested for extension. I first allowed it to lift by July 30. We then extended the deadline till August 31,” Paswan said.

The minister alleged that the state government in a “hurry” implemented the food security act in March itself without putting the mechanism in place as laid down under the new law, to gain “cheap popularity” ahead of Lok Sabha polls.

The state is implementing the food law and supply highly subsidised grains to 5-6 crore beneficiaries identified under earlier PDS.

Courtesy: Outlook India

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