Not possible to give free foodgrains to all poor: Manmohan Singh

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New Delhi, Sep 6 (ANI): The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, on Monday reacting to the directives of the Supreme Court on the issue of distribution of rotten foodgrains, said it is not possible to give foodgrains to all poor people.

Dr Singh told the apex court, which recently directed the government to distribute food grains free to the poor, not to get into the 'realm of policy formulation'.

"How can foodgrains be distributed free to an estimated 37 percent of the population which lives below the poverty line, It is not possible to give free foodgrains to all the poor," said Dr Singh during an interaction with editors at his residence here today.

"I do recognise that food should be available to the people below poverty line at concessional prices. We have not allowed any increase in the issue price of foodgrains to people below poverty line since 2004," he added respecting the 'sentiments' behind the decision that a way should be found to ensure that at a time when foodgrains are rotting, the needs of the people should be met.

Dr Singh further said noting the judgement of the apex court; the government has taken adequate steps to ensure that food should be made available to the poor at affordable prices.

"At the same time, making food available free would destroy incentives to farmers to produce more. If there was no food available, there would be nothing to distribute," he added.

The Central Government on Thursday decided to release an extra 2.5 million tonnes of foodgrains to the various states for distribution among the poor at a BPL price following the directives of the Supreme Court on the issue of rotten foodgrains.

Earlier on August 31, Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said the government would accept the directives of the Supreme Court on the issue of rotten foodgrains.

The Supreme Court had on August 31 asserted that it had ordered free distribution of food grains to the poor instead of allowing them to rot in godowns, and added that it was not a suggestion as made out by Sharad Pawar.

"It was not a suggestion. It is there in our order. You tell the Minister," the court told the government counsel.

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." (ANI)

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