The government has proposed to set up intermediate grain storage facilities at block level in each state, a move aimed at ensuring steady flow of foodgrain under the National Food Security Act.
According to the proposal, the Centre will provide Rs 450 crore while the land for construction will be given by the states that are willing to come up with these facilities.
The proposed storages will be constructed under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. “NREGA will be used to set up intermediate storage facilities,” rural development minister Jairam Ramesh said. “It will be entirely centrally sponsored, with the Centre pumping in Rs 450 crore to create 15 lakh tonne of storage capacity in the first year.” The government has identified 6,612 blocks across the country, with average storage capacity of 44,000 tonne.
According to Ramesh, though this will require an amendment in Schedule 1 of MGNREGA,the move will lead to increase in storage capacity and improve the implementation of the National Food Security Act. “The creation of these intermediate storage facilities will largely benefit states which are facing shortage of storage facilities like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha,” he added.
The Food Security Act, which was notified last month, gives legal entitlement to 67% of the population (including 75% rural and 50% urban) for subsidised grains under the Targeted Public Distribution System.
Under the Act, the government will provide 5 kg of rice, wheat and coarse cereals per month per person at Rs 3, Rs 2 and Rs 1 per kg, respectively. However, there were apprehensions that this will lead to increased leakages at different levels. “Success in the implementation of the Food Security Bill depends on availability of minimum 62 million tonne of foodgrain, which means there should be a sustainable production of foodgrain in the country.
Second part is the storage, where procurement by central agency is done. In 2010, our central storage capacity was 604.2 lakh tonne, which has gone up to 767.9 lakh tonne now along with additional 203.75 lakh tonne capacity coming up in the country,” food minister KV Thomas said.
He said since 2009, the government has been in constant touch with state governments asking them to have intermediate storage facility with at least two-three month of storage capacity.