Govt. monitoring prices of all essential commodities: K.V. Thomas

New Delhi, Sep 25 (ANI): Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Prof. K.V. Thomas on Wednesday said the government is examining the reasons for "undue" rise in prices of foodgrains despite high production.

Thomas said that to check the prices of foodgrains, norms for selling wheat to bulk traders like flour mills under the open market sale scheme (OMSS) have been eased.

"To moderate the open market prices of wheat, Government is also releasing wheat in open market through OMSS scheme. During 2012-13, more than 60 lakh tonnes of wheat was sold under the scheme through tenders floated by the Food Corporation of India. During 2013-14 also, Government has allocated 100 lakh tonnes of wheat and 5 lakh tonnes of rice under different sub schemes under OMSS. It was initially decided that out of the 100 lakh tonnes wheat allocation, 85 lakh tonnes will be sold from godowns in Punjab and Haryana at the reserve price of Rs. 1500 per quintal," said Thomas, while addressing the 73rd annual general meeting of Roller Flour Millers' Federation of India here.

"However, Roller flour industry was requesting for tender sale of wheat from other States/Uts and it has now been allowed by the Government. To protect the interest of small chakki owners, etc 10 lakh tonnes of wheat have been earmarked for sale through the FCI godowns in all States/Uts without any tenders. I hope that measures taken by the Government will keep the market prices under control and help bulk consumers in maintaining their operation as they can source their wheat requirement from the FCI at reasonable prices," he added.

Thomas expressed confidence that the market prices are not likely to increase much due to the presence in the market of substantial quantity of wheat on offer at moderate reserve prices.

"I am also happy to note that the inflationary trend with respect to wheat is under check and, with wholesale market prices remaining almost at the level of last year, there is no unusual rise in wholesale price of wheat in the market in recent months. The role being played by the Roller Millers industry is very crucial in maintaining the market price of wheat stable," said Thomas.

"I am sure that the Roller Millers industry, as responsible stakeholders will play its role well and contribute its mite in the entire process of equitable distribution in the interest of one and all," he added.

Thomas said ensuring food security to the people has always been an area of focus for the government.

"Food security has two main aspects - availability of sufficient food grains to meet the domestic demand; and access, at the individual or the household level, to adequate quantities of food at affordable prices," said Thomas.

"Due to technological breakthroughs during Green Revolution in the 60's, our country attained self-sufficiency in food grains production. Today not only are our farmers producing sufficient foodgrains to meet the domestic requirement, but we are also exporting food grains," he added.

Thomas said the country has witnessed record production of foodgrains in recent years.

"Total foodgrains production has increased from 218 million tonnes in 2009-10 to 244 million tonnes in 2010-11 and is estimated to have further increased to a record level of about 259 million tonnes in 2011-12. The combined procurement of wheat and rice during this period has also increased from 54.55 million tonnes in 2009-10 to 62.53 million tonnes in 2010-11 and further to 73.18 million tonnes in 2011-12," said Thomas.

"In percentage terms, combined procurement of wheat and rice has been about one third of their production in recent years. As a result, our granaries are full and we are in a comfortable position in terms of food grains stock in the central pool," he added.

Thomas said having attained self-sufficiency in foodgrains production, it is important that each individual or household has access to foodgrains/food at affordable prices.

"For this, Government of India is implementing various schemes in partnership with State Governments and Union Territory administrations. Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) is one of the core programmes of the Government which has played a vital role in ensuring food security of the people," said Thomas.

"Besides, Government is also implementing schemes to specifically address the nutrition related concerns, especially among women and children, through schemes like Integrated Child Development Services, Mid-Day Meal, etc," he added.

Thomas said that apart from normal Targeted Public Distribution System allocations, the Government of India also makes additional allocations for BPL and APL families in the States/Union Territories from time to time. (ANI)

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