Chief Minister Siddaramaiah never spares an opportunity to take credit for his pet project 'Anna Bhagya' where food grains including rice, pulses, oil and salt are distributed at a subsidised price among the poorest of the poor. But does Siddaramaiah know that the food grains that are meant for the poor are being eaten away by pests and rodents leaving the poor hungry?
Especially, the wheat that is hoarded to be distributed among the needy, is rotting in godowns, across the state. According to a report by Vijayavani, at least 38,072 quintal of wheat has been rendered absolutely useless as they are unfit for consumption. While at some places they are infested with worms and rodents and in some places, they are spoilt due to moisture. But, the Congress government seems to be oblivious to such a massive quantity of food grain being spoilt.
It is reported that the 38,072 quintal of wheat has been stocked up in godowns since December. Reason? The government has not yet been able to estimate the beneficiaries who are wheat-eaters.
Earlier, under the Anna Bhagya scheme, the State government was distributing 3 kg of rice and two kg of wheat. There were reports that people in Southern Karnataka preferred more rice and ragi, while those in the North Karnataka wanted either wheat or jowar. Following a strong demand to increase the rice quantity to five kgs (total 7 kg) in July, the government held up the distribution of the wheat.
As a result, since July, the wheat has not been distributed among the poor instead, they are being eaten away by pests and rodents. In fact, the 38,072 quintal of wheat could have fed at least 19 lakh persons, if the government had taken appropriate measures. What more, the government could have spent Rs 10 crore to buy the wheat. For, a quintal of wheat costs up to Rs 3,200 in the wholesale market. If the government had purchased a minimum of Rs 2600 per quintal, it would have certainly spent Rs 10 crore to buy 38,072 quintal of wheat, reports Vijayavani.
Food and Civil Supplies Commissioner Anurag Tewari's mysterious death had rocked the State government. It was alleged that Tewari could have become the target for exposing illegal rice hoarders. It was alleged that Tewari was said to have come forward to check irregularities in the Anna Bhagya Scheme. Tewari had earned the wrath of the politicians on his stern stand on checking the irregularities in the Food and Civil Supplies Department.
Rice and basic grains, pulses are provided at a nominal rate to people from the economically backward sections of the society. The department was planning to invite new tenders even when there was enough stock of the raw material.
Interestingly, the officials concerned have now woken up to the problem and are finding alternative ways to 'dispose' the food grains. It is reported that they are planning to provide it to the Animal Husbandry department to be used as fodder. But the officials concerned are not ready to take any chance and have decided to send the grains to the laboratory. This explains the extent of the food spoilt in the godown.
Quoting Karwar Food and Civil Supplies deputy director Raghunath, Vijayavani reported that since the government has put a restriction on the distribution of wheat to the BPL families, the wheat has been stocked up. Since it is unfit to be consumed, we are exploring options to be distributed as fodder. However, we are awaiting the lab report and also a go-ahead from Karnataka."
Food and Civil Supplies Minister UT Khader stated that the officials have been asked to provide the details of stocked up wheat. "We will distribute among the BPL families, if the wheat is fit to be consumed," Khader said.