Empowered Ministers to discuss apex court order on foodgrains

New Delhi, Sep 2 (ANI): The Empowered Group of Ministers (EGOM) on Food will meet here today to discuss ways of implementing the Supreme Court order to distribute foodgrain 'free' to the poor, instead of letting it rot.

The EGOM, headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, is likely to deliberate on the ways to implement the order as the apex court rejected Food and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar's contention that it was a "suggestion" which cannot be implemented.

Earlier, the Supreme Court had asserted that it had ordered free distribution of foodgrains to the poor, instead of allowing them to rot in Food Corporation of India (FCI) godowns.

Justices Dalveer Bhandari and Deepak Verma clarified that they had passed an order, not an observation as was being made out in newspaper reports quoting Pawar.

Pawar had earlier said, "The Supreme Court's suggestion (for free distribution) is not possible to implement." The apex court in an order directed the Union government to conduct a fresh survey of the BPL/ABPL/AAY beneficiaries on the basis of the figures available for 2010 and said the authorities cannot rely on a decade-old data to extend the benefits.

The government must take urgent steps to prevent further rotting of food grains while maintaining that it must procure only that much quantity, which it can preserve, the two-judge bench said.

The bench reiterated its earlier order that persons above the poverty line shall not be entitled to subsidised food grains, but if the government was determined to extend the benefit, the same shall be given to those families whose annual income is below Rs three lakhs.

Till July, over 11,700 tonnes of foodgrain worth Rs 6.86 crore were found damaged in various godowns

Presently, the government godowns have a stock of 57.8 million tonne of foodgrain, against the buffer norm of 31.9 million tonne. (ANI)

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