4 May 2012, , TIMES NOW

After food Minister KV Thomas revealed the waste of over 70,000 tons of wheat in Punjab in the last year alone TIMES NOW uncovered how official apathy continues to result in the waste of food grain. In a country where 23 crore people go hungry every day can we allow this criminal wastage?

In a country where millions go hungry every day, where food prices break the back of the common man, an estimated 231 million (23.1 crore) people in India go hungry every day, each minute, five Indians die of hunger – i.e., 7000 each day and 2.5 million people every year a bumper harvest is today rotting in godowns and the situation in Punjab is glaring at India.

‘66,306 tonne of the winter crop stored by state agencies in Punjab and 10,456 tonne in Haryana were rendered damaged/non-issuable in 2011-12′, said Food Minister KV Thomas.

With the union food ministry claiming that over 70,000 tonnes of wheat has been left to rot in the storage facilities across the state.

TIMES NOW revealed the shocking apathy that led to criminal waste of food grains. We traveled to two such godowns of the Punjab state Government agro, where wheat stocks face complete neglect.

A guard of one go-down in Dera village in Fategarh sahib said, “4 lakh quintals of wheat has rotten completely. Some new stock was added here last year but that too has rotten now.”

The guard on duty in another such go -down spilled the beans on the colossal waste of food grains over the years, where fresh stock was dumped without clearing the older harvest. The guard at the Punjab Agro go-down in Sirhind said, “The fresh stock came last year. Else it has been lying here for 2-3 years and no one takes it. No one takes care of it.”

The problem is not restricted to storage alone. At one of the largest grain markets of Asia traders allege that the government officials work at a tardy pace, doing nothing to save even the fresh harvest.

Even as Punjab is saddled with the food grain pile up the state government passes the buck to the Centre, blaming the Union Government for the massive crisis.

India’s food grain production may be at an all time high this year with numbers likely to touch 250 million tonnes, but if Punjab Govt and the Centre don’t wake up this precious grain that could feed millions will once again be left to rot another year. Maybe if they wake up now 2 and a half million people in India who die of hunger each year could just be saved.