State govt taking steps to meet food crisis: Food Minister

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Aizawl, Dec 13 (UNI) Mizoram Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Minister K Sangthuama today claimed that the state government and Centre were making all-out efforts to solve the food crisis in the state following devastation by the Mautam (bamboo flowering) related rodents.

Several villages in the state were reportedly on the verge of starvation after vast expanses of rice crops were devoured by the rodents, trigerred by the Mautam flowering.

''Both the state government and Centre are taking steps to ensure adequate rice supply and there is no need to worry,'' the minister said.

''We are urging the Food Corporation of India to expedite Mizoram's rice supply and a huge quantity of rice has already arrived at Bairabi,'' the minister said.

Meanwhile, of the 57,400 quintals rice required per month, the Centre would grant 50,000 quintals and Rs 2.50 crore will be spent from the state exchequer per month for selling foodgrains to the people at subsidised rates.

Referring to the Lamherh village incident when the media allegedly misreported on starvation, the minister asked mediapersons not to spread rumours that could make people panicky.

Mizoram Governor M M Lakhera also informed reporters that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had assured all possible assistance to combat the Mautam famine.

''It is our collective responsibility, the media and the government, to ensure that none of our people die of starvation,'' the Governor said.

He, however, said not only Mizoram but other states were also facing disasters, including floods and drought.

The state government had recently hiked the rice quota from two to three kgs per head per week and wages of villagers working under the food-for-work programme.

The state is facing acute rice shortage due to destruction of crops by rats, proliferated by bamboo flowering. The crisis has been worsened due to the heavy rainfall and floods this year.

UNI

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