New Delhi, May 21 - The food ministry has supported the suggestion of Rangarajan panel to allow export of 2 million tons of wheat from government stocks immediately to ease pressure on storages, the Rajya Sabha was informed today.
Replying to supplementaries during Question Hour, Food Minister K V Thomas said the Prime Minister had constituted an expert group headed by Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council (PMEAC) Chairman C Rangarajan to suggest ways to ease pressure that record foodgrain production had created on storages.
The panel suggested immediate export of 2 million ton of wheat from government stocks, and additional supply of 13 million tons of the grain via ration shops and in the open market.
"(The committee's) suggestions are being examined. Our department has fully supported the suggestions of C Rangarajan committee," he said.
At present, the government godowns are overflowing with granaries with 62.8 million tons of storage capacity unable to accommodate about 75 million tons of stocks.
For public distribution system (PDS), the requirement of foodgrain is 62-63 million tons, he said adding record production has created problem of plenty.
"While creation of adequate storage facilities was suggested for the long term, increase in quantum of food supply to BPL population and distribution of foodgrains to deserving population at very low cost or no cost was to be taken up in the short term," he said.
Thomas said the percentage of foodgrains damaged in Food Corporation of India (FCI) godowns has fallen to insignificant levels of 0.006 per cent from 2.5 per cent five years ago.
"The quantity of foodgrains which became damaged/non- issuable in last three years is not considerable quantity as may be seen from the fact that 6702 tons, 6346 tons and 3338 tons of foodgrains got damaged/became non-issuable during 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12 respectively," he said.
On Supreme Court direction to reserve foodgrains for distribution to the poorest districts in the country, he said the government allocated 23.69 lakh tons of rice and wheat for 174 poorest districts in 27 states in 2011-12 but off take is only 27 per cent, he said.
"Our ministry is writing to state governments to improve off take," Thomas said.
In 2012-13, the government has allocated 543 lakh tons of rice and wheat so far under Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), he said.
Considering the availability of surplus stocks in the Central Pool, the government in 2011-12 increased the per family monthly APL allocations from 10 kgs to 15 kgs in 22 states/UTs and gave 35 kgs in 13 special category stages/UTs.
"This increased allocation has been continued in 2012-13 also," he said.
On record wheat output in Punjab, Thomas said the state government initially projected 105 lakh tons but actual procurement was 125 lakh tons.
"Punjab has expertise to handle foodgrains procurement," he added. PTI