New Delhi, Oct 17 (IANS) The government has decided to leverage the rural job scheme to create intermediary grain godowns at the block level to plug leakages in the public distribution system, a minister said Thursday.
The move comes as the central government attempts to roll out the food security scheme throughout the country.
"We will change Schedule 1 of the MGNREG (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee) Act to allow the rural job plan to be used for construction of intermediary godowns at the block level," Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh told reporters.
The biggest beneficiaries would be states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Chhattisgarh, where little capacity exists for storing grains.
Food minister K.V. Thomas said the move will not only help create better storage facilities at the block level, but also help the government cut losses in the public distribution system (PDS) on account of leakage of grains.
"Right now, the grains are stored in FCI (Food Corporation of India) godowns, and go straight to fair price shops. There is around 25-30 percent leakage in the PDS. The intermediary godowns will help reduce it," Thomas told reporters.
As the scheme is voluntary, the central government has appealed to the states to make the most of it.
"We appeal to the states to use the scheme. We will fund the godowns. The states just have to provide land," Ramesh said.
He said that there were around 6,612 blocks across the country, where storage capacity of 44,000 tonnes is required.
The rural development minister added that the move will help dispel the notion that only temporary structures were being built under the rural job plan, as the block level godowns would be permanent structures.
The centre would allocate around Rs.450 crore for the scheme this fiscal, he said.