An article in the far left news portal The Scroll claimed that India let 65 lakh tonnes of grains go waste from January to May 2020. The article further said that the grains could have been given to the poor who went hungry due to lockdown. It then insinuated that the government hoarded the grains when people have been ‘dying of hunger’.
However, Scroll’s claims turned out to be false as the article misrepresented the facts by construing the procured food grains which were being transported to various locations and temporarily stored as ‘hoarding’. The Scroll’s claims were busted by Food Corporation of India which came up with a fact based rebuttal.
The FCI rebuttal called the Scroll’s article as ‘blatantly unfair interpretation’ of the actual stock position and wrong information has been published without making any efforts to check the facts.
The FCI’s letter of rebuttal highlights that out of the 365 lakh MT wheat procured by the govt is shifted to storage points over a period of time. This involves large scale logistic operations which causes the time lag and is a ongoing exercise. It is during this shifting process, about 56.35 Lakh MT of wheat was yet to be shifted from mandies to storage points as on 1st May, 2020. These stocks were subsequently shifted and taken to central pool account, says the letter.
Similarly, at any given point, there will be some stocks in transit as FCI continuously moves stocks from surplus states to consuming states. During the current pandemic demand for food grains had gone up substantially due to additional allocations under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana (PMGKAY) and FCI was working on a 24/7 basis to meet this additional requirements, says FCI. The Scroll’s article does not take this into consideration deliberately.
Food Corporation of India (FCI) letter addressed to the Editor of Scroll which debunked the false claims over wastage and hoarding of food grains
FCI also notes that as on 1st May, higher than the normal average stocks were in transit due to the increased demand. The quantity of food grain in transit as on 1st May was 14.01 Lakh MT and these stocks subsequently reached the respective destinations and were issued to state governments for distribution under various schemes of Government of India, says FCI.
FCI letter at the end says that the gross misinterpretation that has happened in this case by publishing an imaginary figure of 71.8 Lakh MT as ”wasted stocks”, when the actual quantity of food grains stocks that became non-issuable (damaged) during 2019-20 is just 1930 MT, that too largely due to natural calamities like floods.
Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan too exposed Scroll’s fake news and wrote “The long diatribe by @scroll_in saying ‘India let 65 lakh tonnes of grains go waste’ is simply a result of ignorance of facts. The authors have deliberately considered the food grains in transit as foodgrains which have been wasted.”