Indian Railways Helps FCI Transport More Than Double The Average Foodgrains During Covid-19 Lockdown

by M R Subramani - Apr 17, 2020 06:08 PM +05:30 IST
Indian Railways Helps FCI Transport More Than Double The Average Foodgrains During Covid-19 LockdownLoading at Kakinada Port Vijayawada Division SCR
Snapshot
  • The railways helped FCI to transport a record 1.7 lakh tonnes of foodgrains every day, more than double the normal average movement of 80,000 tonnes a day.

The Food Corporation of India (FCI), the key arm of the Food Ministry, transported a record 3.74 million tonnes (mt) of foodgrain through the Indian Railways during the lockdown period since 24 March.

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution said in a statement that foodgrain stocks were transported using 1,335 trainloads from surplus states in the first 22 days of the nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19).

The railways helped FCI to transport a record 1.7 lakh tonnes (lt) of foodgrains every day, more than double the normal average movement of 80,000 tonnes a day.

Of the total foodgrains transported, 3.34 mt were unloaded in the consuming states to meet the needs of the beneficiaries under the targeted public distribution system (PDS).

The Ministry said it had already despatched 2.56 mt of foodgrains to be supplied for the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana (PMGKAY).

Under PMGKAY, the Centre provides 5 kg foodgrains free to every beneficiary covered under the National Food Security Act. The despatched consignments can meet three months’ requirement.

The despatch included nearly 4 mt of foodgrains for regular allocation under various welfare schemes, including the National Food Security Act.

The Food Ministry said ample stocks had been handed over to every state to provide adequate foodgrains to all beneficiaries covered under National Food Security Act.

For those not covered by the act, the states have been given the liberty to buy wheat at Rs 21 per kg and rice at Rs 22 per kg against ration cards issued by them.

States have also been given the option to buy rice at Rs 22.50 a kg from the FCI to meet additional requirements.

The ministry said that in order to check open market prices and ensure ample availability of wheat flour (atta), states could requisition wheat for flour mills directly from FCI at open market sale rates.

The Centre would also allow non-governmental and other welfare organisations to buy wheat at Rs 21/kg and rice at Rs 22/kg from FCI in order to provide food to the poor and needy during these difficult times.

The wheat and rice could be bought from any FCI depot without any cap on quantity. Such organisations have begun making use of this scheme in Maharashtra and Karnataka.

With all trains being cancelled by Indian Railways across the country as part of the nationwide lockdown to tackle coronavirus, the FCI has had it easy to transport foodgrains to required centres.

The lockdown which was initially until 14 April has now been extended to 3 May.

Until now, 13,387 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the country. While 437 people have died of the pandemic virus, 1,749 have recovered.

M.R. Subramani is Executive Editor, Swarajya. He tweets @mrsubramani

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