Why can’t food be given to poor, asks Supreme Court

October 29th, 2010 - 10:12 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 29 (IANS) The Supreme Court Friday asked the central government why foodgrains it had procured but could not preserve because of inadequate storage capacity could not be given to the poor.

“Procurement of adequate foodgrains is essential to provide food security and to protect the interest of the farmers. All through our anxiety has been that the procured foodgrains be properly preserved,” said the bench of Justice Dalveer Bhandari and Justice Deepak Verma.

However, the court said: “The amount of foodgrains which cannot be preserved because of lack of storing facility, at least that much wholesome foodgrains be allocated to the BPL (below poverty line) population forthwith.”

The court also recorded the submission by senior counsel Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the petitioner People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), that 150 of the poorest districts in India be also given the same amount of foodgrains as distributed to the BPL population.

The court also took note of the submission by PUCL that though in 2010 India’s population was estimated to be 117.67 crore, the foodgrains being distributed to the BPL families was on the basis of the 1991 census.

The petitioner said that since the last census of 2000, there has been an addition of another seven crore families to the BPL category who were being kept of the targeted public distribution system.

While stating that the foodgrains should be supplied to the BPL families based on 2010 population estimates, the court asked Attorney General G. Vahanvati to state why the remaining BPL families should not be given the same quota of foodgrains.

According to the 2000 census, the population of the country stood at 99.69 crore.

The court also took note of the submissions by some states that even going by the central government’s parameters of BPL families, the number of people living below poverty line was much larger than being put out by New Delhi.

The court said that all those states who have not filed their affidavit so far should do so by Nov 8, 2010 when the matter would be taken up for further hearing.

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