NEW DELHI, March 8 � Faced with complaints of short supply of food items in the North-east, Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Prof. K V Thomas said that his Ministry is in the process of increasing the food storage capacity to 4.41 lakh MT.
MPs from North-east grumbled about food shortages particularly during flood season, the lack of storage capacity, short supply of railway rakes and failure of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) to build a buffer stock during a Question hour discussion in the Lok Sabha this morning.
In response, the Minister of State sought to assure the MPs by stating that the Centre has paid special attention to the North-east. On February 14, a meeting of chief Ministers and State Food Ministers was held at Kolkata to discuss the problems being faced by the NES, he informed.
�We have increased the storage facility of the FCI in almost all the States of the NER, so that about 4, 41,805 MT capacities are generated. We have also given instruction for the new go downs to be constructed at Changsari of 50,000 MT capacity, in Hailakandi 5000 MT and Tura 2500 MT capacity.
Besides, the storage capacity in Senapati is 5000 MT and that of Jiribham 2500 MT and that of Passighat 2500 MT and in Arunachal Pradesh 20,000 MT. The stock position is now quite comfortable,� he assured.
The Minister further said that they are in the process of building more storage capacity with the cooperation of the State Governments. The Ministry is monitoring the situation almost on a daily basis in the North-east. This is a process, we are very vigilant on that,� he said.
It is true that the rakes available for distribution of food grains are not adequate. �I am not blaming the Railway department because they have some constraints. But we have an existing mechanism, which continues, by which the Food Corporation of India and the Railway Ministry are constantly in touch and are monitoring the situation.
Earlier, Paban Singh Ghatowar said in the North-east, a major problem is regular flood in monsoon season. The stock in the North Eastern States becomes very low and it becomes difficult for the State Government to fulfil obligations of supplying food in remote areas.
Ghatowar further said a regular problem for the North Eastern States is short supply of railway racks. The MP wanted to know whether the Government of India has taken any special step to make available adequate stocks in the NER.
Later joining him, Khagen Das said the shortfall in delivery of food grains by the FCI to the NES is a continuous feature. The Government of Tripura had requested the FCI to build a buffer stock of food grains for three months by March. There is a need to increase the movement of food grains by rail and road in the North-east, he said.