New Delhi: The government will on priority distribute nearly 27 million tonnes of wheat it procured this year under the relaxed quality norms through ration shops, welfare schemes and open market sales.
The Food Corporation of India (FCI) procured 28.08 million tonnes of wheat this year, of which 26.62 million tonnes was purchased under the relaxed quality norms because the crop got damaged due to unseasonal rains early this year.
FCI generally distributes foodgrains on a first in and first out (FIFO) basis.
In a written reply to a Lok Sabha question, Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said the wheat stocks — procured under relaxed norms — have luster loss, shriveled and broken grains but the grains are "as good and nutritive as sound grains for human consumption".
Asked if the FCI proposes to dispose wheat procured under relaxed norms at the earliest irrespective of FIFO policy, Paswan replied in affirmative, "Yes Madam."
"Government has issued direction that under relax specification, wheat stock is to be issued on over-riding priority irrespective of FIFO principle for distribution under the public distribution system (PDS) and other welfare schemes," Paswan said in a written reply on July 28.
Surplus wheat stock, procured under relaxed norms, would also be sold in the open market on over-riding priority through e-auctions, he said.
"The wheat stocks procured under relaxed specifications in luster loss and shriveled and broken grains are as good and nutritive as sound grains for human consumption."
However, storability of the wheat bought under relaxed quality norm may be affected if proper scientific code of particles is not followed as compared to the sound grains.
"Therefore, the FCI has been asked to issue the wheat procured under relaxed specifications on over-riding priority," he said.
While distributing foodgrains, both States and FCI follow well defined procedure of inspection and sampling of the stock to ensure that only good quality foodgrains conforming to food safety standards are issued to PDS and other welfare schemes, he added.
To liquidate surplus stocks, Paswan said the government has issued guidelines for sale of wheat in the open market to bulk consumers via e-auction route.
Reserve price of wheat has been kept at Rs 1,550 per quintal in Punjab, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh, and for other states the rate is Rs 1,550 per quintal plus freight charges from Ludhiana. Bulk buyers can bid up to 3,500 tonnes.
As on July 1, FCI was holding 37.68 million tonnes of wheat stocks and 15.89 million tonnes of rice. Wheat output is pegged at 90.78 million tonnes in 2014-15 crop year (July- June) against record 95.85 million tonnes in the previous year.