Grave concern in RS over rotting foodgrains

New Delhi: Serious concern was expressed in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday over rotting of foodgrains in government godowns and supply of sub-standard foodgrains to tribals in the country.

Raising the issue during Zero Hour, Brinda Karat (CPI-M) said the government was not listening to the demand for distributing surplus foodgrains among the poor and allowing them to rot instead.

Showing samples of rotten wheat and rice in the House, she said that the foodgrains being sent by the government to remote tribal areas are unfit for consumption and demanded that government should replace them with good quality grains.

She said the government should constitute a monitoring agency to check the quality of foodgrains.

Deputy Chairman K Rahman Khan said the entire House associated with Karat and the government would take note of the sentiments of the members.

In a related subject, A K Ganguly (Nom) said the "country is sitting on a grain bomb" as good monsoon is expected to result in record wheat output of 82 million tonnes in the current season while storage capacity is very low.

The country needs extra storage of 1.5 lakh tonnes and one per cent construction of warehouses was completed last year.

At this point, Congress member Mabel Rebello shouted "shame".

Ganguly, a well-known name in corporate India said the impact of the use of insecticides and pesticides was harmful to children and women.

He urged the government to bring out a white paper "on calamity of plenty" which the country faces.

He said this year the country is going to reap a record output of fruit and vegetables as well, of which 40 per cent is likely to go waste.

Unless the APMC (Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee) rules are modified, inflation will again rise, he feared.

While countries like Russia and China are facing wheat crop failure, India is fortunate of reaping good harvest. "Let us not convert fortune of plenty into calamity," he said.

Noted agriculture scientist M S Swaminathan associated himself with the issue raised by Ganguly.

In another Zero Hour mention V Hanumantha Rao (Cong) cited media reports to pinpoint alleged irregularities in disinvestment of VSNL to the Tatas during the tenure of Arun Shourie as Disinvestment Minister in the then NDA government.

"This is fit case for investigation by CBI," he said, triggering protests from BJP members.