“In order to ensure smooth supply of foodgrains under the TPDS (Targeted Public Distribution System) and other schemes of the government as well as to maintain buffer stocks in the northeast, Food Corporation of India plans movement of foodgrains in advance from Punjab and Haryana to different parts of the northeast by rail,” Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Minister Ram Vilas Paswam told Lok Sabha.
He said certain operational constraints such as inclement topography, landslides due to rain, frequent bandhs and strikes, unforeseen circumstances due to law and order problems and natural calamities sometimes affect movement of foodgrains in the northeast.
“As there is limited rail network in the northeast, FCI inducts stocks from railheads and railhead depots to all FCI depots in the region to ensure smooth supply of foodgrains,” he said.
Paswan said there have been complaints about irregularities in the functioning of the TPDS, including leakage and diversion of foodgrains, and foodgrains not reaching the beneficiaries, in some states, including the northeast.
Stating that TDPS was operated under the joint responsibility of the central and the state governments, Paswan said that as and when complaints are received by the government from individuals and organisations as well as through media reports, these are referred to the state governments concerned for inquiry and appropriate action.
He said 25 complaints have been received from the northeast till June this year.
“Further, the government and FCI continuously monitor the inter-state foodgrains movement to ensure availability of foodgrains in the region,” the minister said.
“A joint coordination mechanism between Railways, FCI and Department of Food and Public Distribution has been set up to monitor rail movement on weekly/monthly basis.”
Paswan said coordination committees have also been set up at regional and zonal levels to monitor foodgrains movement.
“During 2014-15, movement of foodgrains to the northeast increased by 13 percent as compared to previous year,” he said.