Food transit losses

Food Corporation of India (FCI) is a very large organization with enormous network across the country so as to supply food items to the vast Indian population even in the farthest corner of the country. It has large establishment and food storage arrangements throughout the country including our State. However, a Parliamentary Panel has pointed out deficiencies and suggested measures of improvement. The report of the panel has revealed some rather disappointing aspects in the distribution of food supplies in the State.
In the first place the panel has noted too much loss of food supplies in the course of transit rather than in storage of these supplies. It has pointed out that losses to the tune of 4.33 crore rupees have been incurred by the FCI during the current financial year 2014-15 on the transit of food supplies only. FCI has storage points at various places in the State and the Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution Department (CAPD) of the State lifts the stores and is responsible for distribution among the consumers. It is true that J&K is a hilly State and transportation is not as easy as in the plains of India. But this argument stands refuted when we take into consideration the State of Uttarakhand which is also a hilly state like J&K but where in comparison to our State losses on transit of food supplies for the same period have been only 1.18 crore rupees. The panel has pointed out that the system of transportation and distribution needs to be streamlined and losses on transit of food supplies have to be brought down. There have been many complaints from consumers in various parts of the State from time to time for shortage of food supplies or low quality supplies not fit for consumption. CAPD has been trying to convince the people that it works efficiently and shortages in any part are only temporary owing to transportation or other casual obstructions.
The panel has also criticized the CAPD for failing to introduce digitization for which purpose the Centre had advanced support of 6.11 crore rupees. The purpose of digitization of supplies and distribution exercise was to bring to light fraudulent ration cards and black marketing practices so rampant in the department. Why the State Government has failed in digitization is a serious matter and the panel has expressed its disapproval of deliberate attempts of scuttling the scheme for which adequate financial support had been provided. The panel has made the remark that this exercise is still at infancy stage and no time frame has so far been fixed for its completion. The question is that digitization has been initiated with the clear cut purpose of stopping corruption in the department in which, according to common belief, not only the functionaries but many more agencies are involved. We neither endorse nor contradict these allegations but the fact remains that this is an impression carried by the people in general and the authorities should take necessary measures to dispel these misgivings. If it does not, the doubts get confirmed. Digitization will disallow fraudulent ration cards and other activities because it will put everything on record and interested consumers can check it at any time and bring a suspicious case to the notice of the officers. All that we have to say is that everything is not right with the CAPD Department. It has been under the scanner for a long time. It has also been noted that the departmental authorities are playing a dubious role in providing information to the inquiry authorities about the scam that has bedeviled it for a long time. There is deliberate attempt on the part of concerned not to bring full awareness to the consumers and not to let them put their finger at the wrongdoing of the department. The Vigilance authorities have already established that some of the functionaries of the CAPD have raised properties disproportionate to their income. The way in which investigation into the food scam in the State is carried out does not convince anybody that the Government is seriously interested in eradicating corruption in the administration. That is a very sad and disturbing phenomenon.