Bhopal: The Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution (Storage & Research Division) has accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Madhya Pradesh Government of distributing substandard grains which are ‘only’ edible for animals and ‘unfit for human consumption’ during the lockdown.
In a letter to the principal secretary of Madhya Pradesh Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Protection Department, the consumer affairs ministry claimed that in tribal dominated Balaghat and Mandla districts, the grains distributed to the needy during the lockdown is 'unfit for human consumption' and 'suitable for goat, horse, sheep and cattle feed.'
The letter which was sent to the state government on August 21, 2020 further said that the report has been prepared on the basis of 32 samples collected from both the districts by the Deputy Commissioner (S&R) between July 30, 2020 to August 2, 2020 from four depots and one ration shop in the districts.
The six page report says, 21 samples of grains from Sweta Warehouse-Neorgaon, CWC-Garrah and MPWLC Baihar and one sample of Fair Price Ration Shop-Premnagar were taken from Balaghat district. While the remaining 10 samples were taken from Sangam Warehouse, Katangi of Mandla district.
Subsequently, the samples were analysed in the NABL accredited Central Grain Analysis Laboratory (CGAL) Krishi Bhawan, New Delhi, which is not only the referral lab of India but also for the SAARC countries, the report said.
Upon the analysis, the samples were found to be not only just beyond rejection limits but also substandard on every parameter of the Union Ministry. “Hence, it's unfit for human consumption and suitable only for animals like goat, horse, sheep and cattle and for poultry feed as per the guidelines for the disposal of the stocks”, the letter added.
Also read: Bhopal: Nearly 20,000 BPL Cardholders’ Names Deleted from List in Feb, Claims Gas-hit Victims’ Body
Interestingly, the samples which were collected from the warehouse have been purchased in May-July this year, according to the warehouse record. While the Union Ministry’s report claimed that it was more than three years old stock.
It’s worth mentioning that, in a report published earlier this year, NewsClick had pointed out how Madhya Pradesh had topped in wheat procurement this year with a record jump of 48 lakh tonnes from previous year after the Union Government lowered the procurement standards and gave certain relaxations to the MP government.
At the end of the report, the Ministry urged the Department to conduct a fair inquiry against those officials who have indulged in this “heinous act” and that the Department should blacklist the supplying company.
The Union Ministry also urged the state government to seize the stock from where samples have been taken and send the enquiry report as soon as possible.
No use of grain, purchasing from shop, says beneficiaries
Basant, 49, a resident of Motinagar of Balaghat district who pulls a hand cart to feed his six-member family told NDTV, “We got 18 kg rice and 12 kg flour during the lockdown, but it’s useless. We buy grains to feed ourselves.”
Another resident of Motinagar, Sangita Wanshkar said, “No one eats this grain except animals.”
A resident Maksood Khan said, “What is the use of the grain if it’s not edible. This is just like elephant’s teeth, only for show off not for use. The government and officials are making mockery of us by distributing substandard grains in the lockdown.”
Even after 10 days of the letter, the Minister of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Protection Madhya Pradesh, Bishulal Sahu said that he is unaware of any such letter and added that he will take action against it if it is true.
Nearly 75% of the state’s population gets ration under the National Food Security Act. According to the 2011 census, the state has 1.17 crore ration cards and nearly 5.6 crore people get ration at Rs 1 per kg from 25,490 ration shops.