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Public distribution ministry to work on Kumar Committee’s suggestions
Tuesday, 11 June, 2019, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Ashwani Maindola, New Delhi
The Ministry of Food and Public Distribution has decided to work in accordance with the Shanta Kumar Committee’s suggestions to streamline the functioning of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) that include the creation of silo storages, the new recruitment policy and the labour law reforms in FCI, amongst others.

Ram Vilas Paswan, minister of food and public distribution, has said that the ministry was working on a plan for creating 100 lakh-tonne silo storage capacity in the country, of which 6.75 lakh-tonne storage capacity has been created, and another 22 lakh-tonne storage capacity is being created.

He added that the reason for slow progress in construction of silos is mainly due to the necessity of having a 1.5km rail siding next to the silos.

“Now RITES has been assigned the task of changing the silo model, and they will give their recommendations in 90 days to FCI. The target for completion of remaining silos is 2021, so that the wheat procured in March 2022 can be stored in these silos,” he said, while briefing the media in New Delhi.

It is pertinent to mention here that the current system of storage was putting an extra burden on FCI, with the agency holding more stocks than required for the most part of the year.

According to reports, FCI was holding excess stocks worth Rs 1.18 lakh crore as on April 1, 2019 in the central pool. Further reports suggested that the ministry was planning to give away an additional 2kg of rice/wheat in the scheme of the National Food Security Act to get rid of the excess food grains.

Paswan stated that 338 lakh tonne of wheat had been procured in the recently-concluded Rabi season procurement, while in 2018-19, 423 lakh tonne of rice was procured. Out of this, 341 lakh tonne rice has reached FCI.

The Shanta Kumar Committee was created in 2014 to look into the functioning of the FCI and give recommendations. It had given several key suggestions for the improvement in food grain management system and regarding the role of FCI in MSP (minimum support price) operations, procurement, storage and distribution under the targeted public distribution system (TDPS), etc.

Meanwhile, Paswan asserted that the government was ensuring that corruption in the procurement of food grains was completed removed.

He added that the direct recruitment process of FCI was being made more transparent through online examination, which was being done in two phases. While the first phase has already been completed, the second phase will be completed by the second week of July. Similarly, the recruitment of 77 posts of Category-1 and 367 posts of Category-2 will begin in July.

Talking about labour reforms in FCI, Paswan said that with regards to the three types of labourers in FCI (namely Departmental, Daily Payment System [DPS] and No work no pay workers along with contractual labour), a big decision was being deliberated upon by the government to remove the thre different arrangements and bring all workers of FCI under a single, uniform system, which will bring stability of tenure and secured wages for all.

“A consensus in this regard is being formulated with all the different employee unions, 50 per cent of whom are already on board,” he said.

Also, in order to improve the usage of information technology in FCI, a human resource management system (HRMS) will be implemented, the work for which will begin in August 2019, and will be completed by August 2020. This move will benefit 22,000 employees in 196 offices of FCI.

Integration work for depot online of FCI and CWC will be done in consultation with state governments and meetings will be held with the food ministers and secretaries of state government in July to set the targets for integration.

Meanwhile, according to sources, the Ministry of Food and Public Distribution’s proposal to the Cabinet to sell 1kg of sugar at subsidised rates to poor households was returned as the ministry has been asked to put in a robust and transparent mechanism of distribution. In 2017, the government scrapped the supply of subsidised sugar to poor households under the PDS (public distribution system), but resumed the distribution of 1kg a month to the poorest of the poor.
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