A bag of wheat, often used as an adjunct

A bag of wheat, often used as an adjunct (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

TNN | Aug 13, 2012, 04.35AM IST

VADODARA: Wheat enough to feed more than 5,000 people for more than a year has been left to rot at the Vadodara railway station even as the current spell of monsoon showers hit the city. The foodgrain has been allowed to turn to waste less than a week after more than half of Gujarat was declared scarcity-hit.

Some 1,200 tonnes of wheat, packed in 24,000 bags, was lying in the open at the Vadodara railway yard when a TOI team reached there on Sunday afternoon. The foodgrain had poured out of the bags and had become a free lunch for stray cattle.

The wheat sent by Food Corporation of India was to be sent to Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC’s) godown in Vadodara within 36 hours. It was meant for both poor people to be given through the public distribution system as well as for sale in the open market. It was wasted only because the contractor didn’t pick up the bags in time apparently because he didn’t have enough labour to do the job.

“This is unfortunate,” said economist and former Union minister Y K Alalgh. “Such a waste can’t be allowed in our country simply because there is a lack of coordination between various agencies, including the railways and the FCI. The guilty should be brought to book.”

Vadodara collector Vinod Rao and BJP MP Balkrishna Shukla rushed to the spot as word on the issue spread.

CWC officials, however, downplayed the issue, saying that it was a minor hitch. “The contractor was expected to pick up the entire stock from the railway yard. However, he couldn’t do so as the stock was large. Usually, the stock is not offloaded when it is raining. But when the stock was offloaded three days ago, it wasn’t raining. The contractor had moved many bags from the yard to the godown,” said CWC regional manager V K Tyagi.

“Many foodgrain bags have become wet, but we can salvage them and use them again. The lack of infrastructure in the railways, too, led to the situation. We will take action against the contractor and penalize him for the damage,” Tyagi added.

FCI regional manager N Mohan said out of 54,000 bags, 30,000 had been shifted.