New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Saturday directed the government to allocate additional five million tonnes of foodgrains to the 150 poorest districts of the country under supervision of a committee appointed by it.
A bench of justices Dalveer Bhandari and Deepak Verma asked the government to distribute the additional foodgrains during the summer to the poor and vulnerable sections of the society under the guidance of Justice D. P. Wadhwa Committee.
The bench said the committee would identify the vulnerable sections in consultation with the Centre and would recommend allocation of foodgrains to the targeted beneficiaries.
The court also directed the chief secretaries of all states receiving the additional foodgrains to first exhaust their unutilized stock of foodgrains allocated to them and then distribute the additional one.
Earlier on 10 May, the bench had expressed concern over the high malnourishment deaths in the country. The Centre had told the bench that 50 lakh additional tonnes of PDS foodgrains would be distributed among below poverty level families by next two weeks.
The bench had also repeated its earlier stance that if godowns were overflowing or foodgrains are being destroyed on account of other reasons there was no reason why government should not distribute them at subsidized rates to the BPL and Antodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) families.
“We are repeatedly requesting you. Please distribute it. You are procuring (foodgrains) at a huge cost. But the storage capacity will be inadequate to cope with the fresh harvest. That is happening every time when you have bumper crops. Anybody who watches the TV will have the same view.”
“There are said to be 3,000 malnourishment deaths in the country. It may not be 3,000 but even if it is three deaths in a country like ours, it is a matter of grave concern,” the bench had said.
“Why can’t you give it to the poor on a subsidized rate,” the bench had asked the Solicitor General of India after the petitioner PUCL (Peoples Union for Civil Liberties) complained that massive quantity of foodgrains were recently destroyed in Punjab.