December 2, 2011 2:57:29 am
Ten districts of Arunachal Pradesh are reeling under an acute shortage of foodgrain for the past two months as the Food Corporation of India (FCI) has failed to transport grain since September.
Chief Minister Nabam Tuki is planning to meet Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar to press for Central intervention in the matter.
The 10 districts together require about 45 tonnes of rice a month,besides wheat and sugar - all transported by trains to railheads in Assam and then to Arunachal. Some remote areas which are not connected by roads,are supplied by engaging labourers,who carry at least 2,800 quintal of rice every month.
While the well-off people buy foodgrain from the market,the poor - dependent on the public distribution system are having a tough time. A senior official in Arunachals Food and Civil Supplies department said FCI had suspended transporting foodgrain after the contract for carriage from its depots in Assam was challenged in court.
First it was because of suspension of train service on Rangiya-Murkongselek route because of gauge conversion. Now while the FCI tried to engage contractors to transport the foodgrain from its depots in Nagaon district,where the nearest broad guage railhead is,some others have challenged it in High Court, Secretary,Food and Civil Supplies,Sadhana Deori,said.
The foodgrain crisis,Deori added,is becoming acute by the day.We have been writing to FCI to make alternative arrangements but they instead asked us to provide vehicles,which we do not have, he said.
The state government,instead,gave names of contractors enlisted for transport of foodgrain from FCI depots to the districts. But the FCI expressed its inability to engage them saying the state governments standing rates were very high, Deori said.
Officials at FCI Northeastern Zonal Office in Guwahati refused to comment on the issue. The right person who can say anything on this issue is the executive director who is out of station and would return only next week, ML Koshti,General Manager,said.
Arunachal procures much of its requirement of foodgrain like wheat and rice the state hardly produces any major foodgrain under various Central PDS schemes and distributes it through a network of fair price shops. FCI ships the foodgrain to various railheads in Assam,from where it goes first to contractors that transport them to various FCI base depots in the foothills. From there,contractors engaged by the state government carry it to the districts.
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