The wheat import crime

wheat2.jpgAam aadmi rhetoric mongering UPA government is committing sin after sin against the commoners. The liberal import of wheat when the local granaries are overflowing is the recent case in point. Unfortunately there is not a single soul in the power corridors to take the responsibility to explain the reason behind the wheat import. The man responsible for the explanation – union agriculture minister is busy in cricketing and politicking.

The crimes are committed at multiple levels. One, higher prices paid to the imported wheat. Two, lower MSP to the wheat producing Indian farmers. Three, the quality of the imported wheat is inferior and beyond human consumption. Four, a large scale of the PDS wheat is stolen by the vested interests in connivance with the government authorities. Five, no seriousness and sincerity among the concerned people to adequately explain the motives behind the wheat import.

The State Trading Corporation (STC) had floated three global tenders to import nearly 15 lakh tonnes of wheat at a maximum cost of USD 389.45 and a minimum cost of USD 263 a tone. Surprisingly the low cost tender was cancelled and an exorbitant amount was paid to import 12 lakh tonnes of wheat. This higher price payment tells the naked truth. The wheat import was to benefit certain individuals and parties. Clearly the aim is not to uplift the poor people.

On the other hand the national food grain production has gone up to 209.32 million tonnes which is 4.71 million tonnes higher than the previous year’s production. Out of this the wheat production was 74.89 million tonnes which is 5.65 million tonnes higher than the previous year’s production.  There are 101 million tones of wheat available in the central pool as on 1 October 2007.

Why the government is reluctant in procuring wheat from the local farmers? What is the harm in giving better prices to them? These questions need immediate answers.

Source: The Business Line, 5 October 2007

Under the cover to help the poor, the government is destroying their lives. Either they are suffering with the poor quality of food grains supplied or not delivered the subsidized products at all. According to a report by The Times of India, Rs. 32,000 crore worth of food grains were stolen in the last three years. Except 12 states, rest of the country faces the large-scale diversion of PDS for private profit. Not a single grain of wheat reaches the targeted poor people of North eastern states. This region’s problems are compounded with terrorism, corruption and lack of physical infrastructure.

Liberalising the food sector is an essential step to prevent the pretentious actions of the state.  The mill owners should be allowed to import food grains directly. They should be given import duty concessions and all technical assistance. The government can serve the poor better by withdrawing its good intentions but bad outcome programming. The sooner it is done the better the food security of the nation. The agriculture ministry should be the starting point of  this noble Indian mission.

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