Source says Bengal to seek more food grains for free distribution

Tuesday, Jul 28, 2020


By Sampad Nandy


NEW DELHI – The West Bengal government will write to the Centre, seeking excess rice and wheat for free distribution till the end of June next year, a senior state government official said. 


Under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana, the Centre provides 5 kg of rice or wheat to over 800 mln beneficiaries of the national food security plan over and above their monthly entitlement of 5 kg of food grain at subsidised prices.  


The West Bengal government, on its part, is providing free ration to all citizens of the state to mitigate the impact of the lockdown imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus. While the state government had started the scheme for three months in April, it was later extended till September. At the beginning of this month, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee extended it till June next year, immediately after the Centre extended its plan till November. 


"We are giving free food grain to the entire population in the state and that too, for a longer period. We need more food grains. We are going to write to the Centre, and we hope that they will accept our request," the official said.


West Bengal has around 60 mln beneficiaries under the national food security plan. 


The state expects the Centre to provide additional food grains, as there are excess stocks available in the central pool. As of Jul 1, the Centre had 81.65 mln tn of food grains in its inventories, nearly double the buffer stock requirement of 41.12 mln tn, one of the officials said. The food grain stocks included 26.64 mln tn of rice and 55.01 mln tn wheat.


The government is mandated to have 13.5 mln tn of rice and 27.6 mln tn of wheat in its pool as on Jul 1. This year, stocks of both were around double the buffer requirement. On a year-on-year basis, rice stocks were over 6% lower, but wheat inventories were 20% higher.


"With so much stocks in the central pool, the Centre is also looking for ways to liquidate the excess inventory. So, we hope that they accept our request," the official said.  End


Edited by Avishek Dutta


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