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Govt can’t supply free foodgrains: Pawar

New Delhi: The government on Thursday said it is not possible to implement the Supreme Court order that asked the Centre to distribute foodgrain for free to the poorest instead of allowing it to rot due to lack of storage facility.

“It’s not possible to implement the Supreme Court order,” Food and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar told reporters here.

He said that the apex court “had suggested to either distribute freely or sell at cheaper rates to the poorest of poor. The government cannot distribute foodgrains freely”, but is providing rice and wheat at cheaper rates to the poor.

“We cannot distribute freely. Antodaya Anna Yojna (AAY) is applicable to the poorest of poor. We are buying wheat at Rs 16 a kg and distributing at Rs 2 a kg. What SC is telling, we are already doing it,” he noted.

Last week, the Supreme Court had directed the government to distribute foodgrains to the hungry as a measure to overcome the storage problem. “The foodgrains are rotting. You can look after your own people. As a part of short-term measure, distribute it to the hungry for free,” the court had observed.

The bench had passed the direction while dealing with a PIL filed by the civil rights group PUCL on rampant corruption in Public Distribution System (PDS) besides rotting of foodgrain in FCI godowns.

The bench had asked the Centre to ensure construction of a big godown in each state besides separate godowns in different districts and divisions within the states and expedite the computerisation process of PDS system to check pilferage and corruption.

Food Corporation of India, the nodal agency for procurement and distribution of foodgrain, has stock to the tune of 57.8 million tonnes at the start of the month against buffer norm of 31.9 million tonnes.

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