The corrupt journey of food transportation
No one knows the implementation cost of the food Bill, however, everyone knows that it will never reach the poor
Many moons ago, when I was in the vehicle hire purchase business, my regular beat included Siliguri in north Bengal, the gateway for all bulk commodities to the North-East. Foodgrain would be loaded onto trucks which would then travel through the narrow chicken’s neck corridor between Nepal and Bhutan on the north and Bangladesh on the south. Nondescript men sat in hole-in-the-wall offices in Siliguri’s main mandi, and controlled an endless flow of items—rice from West Bengal, wheat from Punjab, cashew and cardamom from the South—into seven states. All transactions were done on little chits of paper—indecipherable to the uninitiated, and it was more or less entirely a cash economy. When we insisted on post-dated cheques for EMIs against the loans we were extending the traders to buy trucks, there would often be difficulties. While their office safes overflowed with cash, most of these men were loath to keep more than a few thousand rupees in the bank.