CPI(M) asks Pawar to solve W Bengal's food distrbution problem

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New Delhi, Oct 12 (UNI) The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has urged Union Agricultural Minister Sharad Pawar to sort out the problems related to the supply of wheat and rice through the Public Distribution System (PDS) in West Bengal.

The Minister was asked by the CPI(M) to direct Central Food department officials and the Food Corporation of India (FCI) to hold meetings with the officials from the Food department of W Bengal to solve the problem.

The CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and Rajya Sabha Brinda Karat in a letter to Mr Pawar pointed out that the present spate of violence related to the distribution of wheat and rice was due to sudden reduction in the allocation of rice from 20.29 lakh in March, 2007 to just 7700 tonnes in April, this year. This was just 3.36 per cent of the earlier monthly allocation.

Similarly, the allocation of wheat was also slashed from 49040 tonnes in April as against 98,112 tonnes in March this year. The figures adversely affected the allocation of wheat and rice at district level.

Citing the example of Birbhum district, she said there have been shortages, the monthly allocation that was 10,000 tonnes had to be cut to less than one tenth. Since open market prices of foodgrains were high, APL card holders found APL prices much more affortable and therefore a demand for foodgrains from PDS increased.

Ms Karat said since the allocation have been cut, the APL cardholders were unable to get the quotas they are entitled to.

''It is precisely in anticipation of such problems that we have been requesting the Government to stop these huge cuts in allocations,'' she said.

She also alleged that the present crisis was due to low stocks in FCI godowns and delay in supply of stocks by FCI leading to the lapse of monthly quotas. Apart from this, the lack of FCI networks to districts made it difficult for areas without FCI godowns to lift the stock due to distances. Ms Karat, however, denied reports of any leakage of PDS foodgrains in the West Bengal, said in a party release here today.


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