V.M. Rao, Director (Impex & IC), Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, Government of India, New Delhi, writes:
This has reference to the report published in The Hindu dated December 7, 2011 under the heading “ ‘Just one slap' comment violent but not wrong, says Anna Hazare.”
I furnish the factual position as far as the following allegations in the report are concerned:
“The activist [Anna Hazare] charged that as Agriculture Minister, Mr. Pawar wasted crores of public money when he imported rotten wheat. ‘Since it was not edible, the wheat was buried in huge pits. But none of the politicians got angry about it?' ”
In this regard, it may be clarified that the only time when India has imported wheat in recent past was in 2006-07 and 2007-08. The wheat was imported in order to meet the shortfall in the Central Pool to meet the requirements of Public Distribution System. About the wheat which was imported, there is nothing on our record substantiating the incorrect and baseless allegation that the country imported rotten wheat. Also there is nothing on record to substantiate the wrong notion that wheat was thrown away and buried in huge pits. The wheat was imported through STC, MMTC and PEC and was distributed through the Public Distribution System in various States.
Elaborate procedure was followed to ensure that imported wheat conformed to the quality specifications approved by the Government of India. All such wheat was permitted to be downloaded from the ships only after Plant Quarantine Authorities and PFA Authorities certified that the imported wheat matched the approved quality specifications and would not cause any health hazard to the consumers in our country. At the time of issuing this imported wheat from FCI godowns to the State Government for Public Distribution through fair price shops, it was issued after joint sampling by the officers of FCI and State Governments' Food Departments. Whenever any complaints were received regarding the quality of such imported foodgrains, samples were collected and sent to the laboratories and it was found that the samples conformed to the PFA standards.