New Delhi, May 8 (PTI) Union Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Friday blamed that state governments are 'not doing enough' in free distribution of pulses to households under the public distribution system to provide poor some relief during the COVID-19 crisis.
Nearly a month's supply of pulses has already been dispatched to several states and union territories, but they have managed to distribute only 53,617 tonnes to ration card holders under the public distribution system (PDS), he said and urged them to speed up the process in the interest of poor people.
It may be noted that the government has decided to distribute free 1 kg pulses to each PDS householder for three months till June under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Anna Yojana (PMGAY) to ensure nutrition security of the poor during the lockdown period.
'Distribution of pulses is the responsibility of the state governments. It has not been easy for us to get the raw pulses milled and transported to states/union territories (UTs) in these difficult times. States should also put extra efforts to ensure at least whatever pulses have been sent to them is distributed via PDS,' Paswan told reporters.
The monthly allocation of pulses is 1.95 lakh tonnes under the PMGAY. Of this, 1.81 lakh tonnes of pulses have already reached to states/union territories so far, out of which only 53,617 tonnes have been distributed to beneficiaries, he said.
'There is enough pulses stock with the government. We are milling and providing it to states. Cannot states take the responsibility of distribution of pulses for three months at least? They cannot expect us to take care of distribution in states,' Paswan said.
For instance, about 6,610 tonnes of pulses have been transported to Bihar which plans to distribute under PDS from May 9. The entire monthly requirement of 1,750 tonnes of pulses have been given to Delhi, while half of the quota of 15,419 tonnes have been given to Chhattisgarh, he added.
'I have personally spoken to chief ministers and explained to them. We want states to distribute whatever has been sent so far. We have sped up the process, but states should also take some interest. They are not doing enough,' Paswan said.
Consumer Affairs Secretary Leena Nandan said buffer stocks of pulses, maintained by cooperative Nafed, are lying in different states, while mills are concentrated in some states. Getting pulses for milling and then supplying to consuming centres is a complex and dynamic process.
Admitting an initial delay in milling, Cooperative Nafed Managing Director Sanjeev Kumar Chadha said, however, things fell in place after the government eased lockdown rules and mills started operation.
'Milling process got streamlined after April 8 and we started dispatching pulses to states. About 2.63 lakh tonnes of pulses have been dispatched so far. The dispatching of pulses for May month distribution will begin soon,' he said.
There were a few complaints from states on the quality of pulses, but that has been resolved, he added.
Currently, the government has about 14.48 lakh tonnes of pulses in its buffer, of which tur dal is about 5.50 lakh tonnes, urad 2.60 lakh tonnes, chana 2.72 lakh tonnes, moong 1.20 lakh tonnes and masur 0.84 lakh tonnes.
Nafed has been asked to continue maintaining a pulses buffer on behalf of the government. It has been mandated to procure 20 lakh tonnes of pulses at MSP this year. Already, it has purchased 3.5 lakh tonnes so far at minimum support price. PTI LUX MKJ