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Coronavirus | Reduce prices of grains for relief work, says Brinda

File photo of Brinda Karat.   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

CPI (M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat, in a letter to Union Minister for Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan, said the government should distribute its stock of foodgrains free of cost, with starvation haunting crores of families who are without any income or work due the lockdown.

Flagging the government order allowing NGOs to buy directly from Food Corporation of India (FCI) godowns for relief work, Ms. Karat said the prices fixed by the government — ₹21.50 per kg for wheat and ₹22.50 per kg for rice — were “extremely high”.

“Even the wholesale price data available on the website of the Ministry shows that the open market prices of wheat are lower in many markets than what is being offered by the Government ,” she wrote.

Huge stockpile

Pointing out that as on April 7, the FCI has 54.2 million tonnes of foodgrains in storage, which is far above the required buffer stock, Ms. Karat said, “This stock is rotting in FCI godowns and as is known, the Government needs to dispose off the stocks to make space in its godowns for the upcoming rabi wheat procurement.”

“Now to try and offload this stock in the name of relief at these high prices to NGOs is shocking and unethical to say the least,” Ms. Karat said.

The usual conditions of mandatory Aadhar and ration cards should not apply as many sections of the population, particularly migrant workers, do not have such documentation ready, Ms. Karat said. “The burden of the lockdown is falling disproportionately on the shoulders of India’s labouring classes. The policy of the Government during the lockdown and in its aftermath, should be suitably altered to address this reality,” she wrote.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2021 8:06:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-reduce-prices-of-grains-for-relief-work-says-brinda/article31383237.ece

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