Paswan assures FCI depot in every NE district
IMPHAL, 21st Sep: Assuring to set up FCI depot in every district of all northeast states, union minister of consumer affairs, food & public distribution Ram Vilas Paswan has stressed the need for upgrading technology of the Centre’s One Nation One Card target for ensuring easy and inclusive access to PDS items.
The minister was speaking at the inauguration of a 4600-MT capacity FCI food storage depot in Bishnupur district on Saturday. The foundation stone for the same facility was also laid by him in 2015.
Expressing satisfaction over the completion of the construction work in time, the union minister said that CAF&PD minister Karam Shyam has informed him about the requirement of NFSA rice and minimum support price (MSP) rice for the state and he will make sure to provide the requirements in full. He also thanked the FCI officials for their work and team effort in bringing a full-fledged regional office of FCI in Imphal by January 2020. Highlighting that two warehouses have already been inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said that the Centre will take up initiatives to set up FCI warehouses in every district of all the northeast states.
The Centre will provide adequate rice in minimum support price in order to meet the demand for drought as declared by the state government. POS machines installation and end to end computerisation process have been implemented in 14 states in connection with One Nation One Card scheme. Tripura and Manipur have completed almost 100 per cent and 86 per cent target respectively while Assam and Mizoram have comparatively achieved lesser target. The Centre is putting efforts to fully implement One Nation One Card from June 1, 2020. Under this target, technology development is a must in Manipur also, he said.
Maintaining that the NDA government is successful in achieving its 100-day target, he urged the public to take benefits of various schemes implemented by the government.
Giving clarification on the issue of black marketing of essential commodities, Karam Shyam said that NFSA rice is provided to the public every month through NFSA fair price agents after getting certification from local organisations and elected members’ nominees. The process is carried out transparently in collaboration with DCs, DSOs and local representatives.
Shyam also informed that the total monthly rice allocation under NFSA for the state is 13,380.740 MT covering 5,79,870 households and 24,32,702 beneficiaries. There are 2,324 fair price shop agents and 60 ePoS facilities have been installed. Every year the state government spends Rs 5 crore above the central assistance of Rs 2 crore to ensure regular and full supply of NFSA rice to the beneficiaries, he said.
There are nine FCI depots in the state with a total capacity of 42,690 MT and 12 FCI warehouses with a total capacity of 20,600 MT. Since Manipur is a landlocked state surrounded by hills; occurrence of natural calamities like landslide or blockade along the highway often lead to shortage of PDS supply. As such, the state needs depot with 40,000 MT capacity to pile up stocks for at least three months. The newly created seven districts do not have warehouses but clearances for plot have been obtained for six and proposals submitted to the ministry for construction of warehouses, he said while expressing belief that the warehouses would be sanctioned soon.
Regarding the allocation of SK oil, the minister said that the state gets monthly allocation of 2928 KL. As the new policy on SK oil requires extension of the allocation to those who have no access to electricity and LPG connections, there is possibility of reducing the allocation gradually, he said.
The state witnessed three instances of flood last year resulting in crop loss and reduced yield. Drought has hit the state again this year. Such situation has led to hike in the price of local rice to over Rs 50 per kg. Though local rice in other states of the country is normally Rs 60 to 70 per kg, this is the first time in the history of Manipur that the price of local rice has gone up to over Rs 50.
Amid such crisis, a CPI MP misquoted the situation in the Parliament by stating that price of NFSA rice has crossed Rs 50 per kg, he said and added that such misinformation could lead to loss of benefits for the state. Considering the situation, he along with the chief minister is seeking the Centre to provide 10,000 MT of rice in minimum support price (Rs 24.76 per kg) to address the issue and the Centre has subsequently assured to provide the same, he said.
He also urged all concerned to refrain from giving false information to the Centre as it leads to various problems in clearing the hurdles resulting in loss of benefits. For instances, communication sent to ministry and PMO resulted in loss of rice allocation for six months in 2017-18 under Welfare Institute Schemes, he added.
FCI northeast zone executive director Anurag Gupta announced that construction of new warehouse in Churachandpur is in the pipeline and additional food-grains are available under the open sales scheme in times of drought.
Mention may be made that ministry of CAF&PD had advised state governments to accelerate the process of computerisation of PDS operations and integrate software of FCI and state governments to ensure end to end computerisation of the process of procurement, storage and distribution of food grains and bring all round development in the NE states.
FCI has implemented depot online system in most of its owned depots in the North East zone. In 2019, warehouses with total capacity of over 17,000 MT have been created in Thoubal, Imphal East and Bishnupur districts. Ministry of Food, CAF&PD secretary (F&PD) Ravikant and FCI chairman & managing director DV Prasad also attended the programme.