PUCL approaches apex court on foodgrain for needy families

September 24th, 2010 - 9:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia Gandhi New Delhi, Sep 24 (IANS) The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) Friday asked the Supreme Court to initiate contempt proceedings against 12 states and union territories for not supplying Below Poverty Line families with 35 kg of grain per family per month in accordance with the court order.
The apex court by its order of Jan 10, 2008, had directed all the states and union territories to supply 35 kg of food grains to each of the BPL families.

PUCL general secretary Kavita Srivastava in her affidavit before the apex court bench of Dalveer Bhandari and Justice Deepak Verma sought directions for the contempt proceedings against the chief secretaries of the 12 states and union territories (UT) for not providing BPL families with 35 kg of grain per family per month.

The states named include Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Daman and Diu and Puducherry.

The PUCL also sought the court’s direction to the government to identify and punish the officials who allowed nearly 70,000 tones of food grains to rot instead of its being distributed to the poor and needy.

Kavita Srivastva pointed to the court that the government has already admitted to the rotting of 12,418 tonnes of food grains in FCI godowns. Besides that another 55,121 tonnes of food grains that FCI stored in the godowns owned by the state governments was damaged or became unfit for human consumption.

The petitioner said that this 70,000 tonnes of foodgrain would have been sufficient for feeding 1.6 lakh BPL families or 8.05 lakh BPL individuals over a year. The petitioner’s affidavit said that unless such actions of the government servants and ministers attracted punishment, no improvement could be expected.

The petitioner said the calculation of the BPL families should be on the basis of 2010 estimations and not the 2000 census. The court was told that according to the Census of India at present the country’s population stood at 117.67 crore, which in year 2000 was 99.69 crore.

Even going by the government’s estimation that 36 percent of the country’s population was in BPL category, the actual number of BPL population was 42.36 crore. The figure is seven crore more than the 35.88 crore based on 2000 census.

The petitioner organization said that the 35 kg of food grain should be sold at Rs.3 per kg. The court was told that at the current rate of Rs.6.5 per kg of rice and Rs.4.5 per kg of wheat a large number of BPL families were not able to buy their rations in full, which in turn gets diverted to the black market.

The court was told that National Advisory Council headed by Sonia Gandhi too had recommended the sale of food grains at Rs.3 per kg.

However, the petitioner disagreed with the court’s suggestion to link procurement to storage capacity. The affidavit said that such a policy would be to the disadvantage of the farmers and would imperil the food security of the country.

The government will file a response to the PUCL affidavit and the matter would come up for hearing on Oct 18.

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