South Assam, Tripura, Mizoram Face Acute Food Shortage
Image Courtesy: Northeast Now
South Assam, Tripura and Mizoram, which have been severely affected by the snapping of road and rail connectivity caused by flash floods and landslides, could face acute food shortages if the Food Corporation of India (FCI) doesn’t increase its supply.
According to sources, the FCI is supplying only from the Changsari depot, located on Guwahati’s outskirts, Northeast Now reported. “The FCI should supply food grains on a war footing from multiple depots of Assam. Otherwise, the residents of the region will suffer acute food shortages,” a source said.
Though the FCI has floated tenders for supplying food grains from multiple depots in Assam, nothing has been finalised yet, another source said.
“The FCI doesn’t realise the emergency situation in south Assam as well as in parts of Mizoram and Tripura. We have noticed that the FCI has not taken proactive steps for supplying food grains meant for poor beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act and the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana,” a resident of Cachar said requesting anonymity.
Flash floods and landslides caused by incessant rainfall have severed the transportation links to south Assam’s Barak Valley and Dima Hasao district and to neighbouring Tripura and Mizoram. Waterlogging in the Lumding-Badarpur section has snapped train connectivity to Barak Valley, Manipur, Tripura and Mizoram. Roads and railway tracks have been washed away at multiple locations in Assam and Meghalaya. In Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district, landslides have cut off roads to Barak Valley and parts of Mizoram and Tripura.
Northeast Now had reported on May 16 that only two days of PDS rice stock supplied by the FCI was left in Haflong, the headquarters of the Dima Hasao. “PDS rice will be exhausted anytime soon as we have stock only for two days in Haflong,” an FCI official said.
Locals blamed the FCI for the shortage of PDS rice and alleged that no senior FCI official visited Haflong to take stock of the situation. “FCI officials are responsible for the shortage of rice. Why didn’t they supply rice in advance? Why were they waiting till the eleventh hour,” a local asked.
On May 17, it was reported that only 15 days of food grains were left for the three Barak Valley districts of Hailakandi, Karimganj and Cachar at the godowns under FCI’s Silchar-based divisional office.
“… FCI has hardly 15-20 days stocks in the godowns under our divisional office, Silchar, for above revenue districts (Hailakandi, Karimganj and Cachar) of Assam,” the FCI’s Guwahati regional office informed the NF Railway in the letter. Notably, “two FCI food grain rakes on way to Salchapra rail head (in Cachar district of Assam) have stuck up due to major landslides at Haflong and other locations”, the letter further read.
The FCI “requested that please top priority may be given for restoring the rail route towards Salchapra so that uninterrupted supply of food grain to the general public of above area may be ensured by FCI without any problem”. The FCI also asked the NF Railway to apprise it about the tentative time for restoring the rail route (towards Salchapra) so alternate transport options can be explored. The rail route, reportedly, is likely to take a minimum of one month for restoration.
Meanwhile, the NF Railway is considering diverting all rakes carrying FCI food grains which are yet to enter the jurisdiction of the NF Railway to other railway zones, internal communication of the NF Railway dated May 17 accessed by Northeast Now shows.
“FCI rakes which are yet to enter the NFR zone may be favourably diverted to some other railway till train running is restored in LMG-BPB (Lumding-Badarpur) hill section,” according to the communication. Notably, two of the rakes were bound for Salchapra railway station in Cachar district of Assam.
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