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Jun 22, 2011, 09.09 PM IST
Amid bulging foodgrains stock in government godowns, an Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on food has decided to meet tomorrow to decide on liquidating the surplus stock to avoid storage crisis this year.
The stock with the government has risen to an all time high of 65.60 million tonnes as on June 1 due to bumper crop last year and higher procurement prices.
Meanwhile, the sowing of Kharif paddy is on and the crop will be harvested from October, requiring storage space. Sources said, as an option, Food Ministry has proposed to distribute 5 million tonnes of grains to 11.5 crore APL families via ration shops till March 2012, in addition to the already allocated stock, and create space for the new crop.
The government had earlier announced a similar plan for both APL and BPL families but the off-take from the state governments has been poor. The sources said the ministry, however, has suggested the move for families living above poverty line (APL) in 20 states who are not receiving the existing quota of 15 kg at Rs 8.30/kg (rice) and Rs 6.10/kg (wheat).
"The date of EGoM has been fixed for June 23," a senior government official said. The EGoM, headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee,
Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, who is one of the key members of the EGoM, will not be present at the meeting as he is in Paris for the G-20 meeting.
The government has few options to clear the surplus stock as Food Minister K V Thomas has ruled out export of rice and wheat till it finalises the proposed National Food Security Bill, which could generate an annual foodgrains requirement of up to 70 million tonnes.
The ministry has been "cautious" in taking a decision on exports in view of high food inflation, which is ruling at 8.96%.
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