The Government has taken a number of initiatives to improve foodgrain management during last one year and interests of farmers and consumers are high on the agenda,
Ram Vilas Paswan, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution said on Monday.
Talking to newsmen here he said that additional storage capacity of more than 43,480 lakh MTs has been created in remote areas specially in North East to keep the foodgrains allocation in advance at least for three months.
“Innovative experiments like shipping of rice from Andhra to Tripura through Bangladesh waterways and Andhra to Kerala through sea route have been made. Twenty lakh tonn additional modern storage capacity is being created in the shape of “Silos” and damage/ leakage of Food Corporation of India (FCI) stocks has been brought down very significantly that is .004 percent,” Paswan said.
Highlighting the farmers’ centric approach in its various initiatives, the Minister said that during the current Rabi marketing season government agencies have procured five lakh tonne more wheat than the last season. In order to protect farmers’ interests, the government not only relaxed quality norms for procurement but also decided to bear value cut, if imposed for shriveled and broken grains, so that farmers get full minimum support price for produce. FCI has been asked to work out a plan for procurement of pulses and oil seeds from farmers on MSP and to adopt a aggressive paddy procurement plan in the regions where market price generally rules below the MSP and distress sale is reported, specially in the states of Andhra, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, he added.
The Minister said that to ensure implementation of National Food Security Act more efficiently, the Centre has decided to bear 50 percent expenditure of food grains handling and of dealers margin money. The rules for payment of Food Security allowance to the beneficiaries, in the case of food grains is not made available to the beneficiaries, have also been finalize. On pilot basis, the Government is also working on direct transfer of food subsidy to beneficiaries of National Food Security Act, he added.
Highlighting proposed plans of the Government for Consumer welfare, Paswan said that after 360 degree review of the Consumer Protection Act, comprehensive amendments have finalised in the Act to ensure quick, inexpensive and simple redressal of consumer’s grievances, enabling e-filing of cases and not requiring personal appearance till the stage of admission, and time bound admission of cases proposed.
A “Central Consumer Protection Authority” also proposed to investigate unfair trade practices; initiate class action, order recall or replacement of defective products. Provision made for product liability to enable consumers to sue for damages caused by defective products/ deficient services. Besides this a dedicated portal www.gama.gov to enable consumers to register their grievances against misleading advertisements (GAMA) has been launched. Six key sectors viz. food and agriculture, heath, education, real estate, transport and financial services have included for this purpose. The complaints lodged are taken up with the relevant authorities or the sector regulators. The consumer is informed after the action taken.
On the occasion the Minister also launched a mobile app enabling consumer to register their complaint against consumer products having ISI marks and quarterly news letter containing best practices of Targeted Public Distribution System.