The Supreme Court Saturday directed the central government to release five million tonnes of food grains more for distribution among the vulnerable section of the population in 150 poorest districts of the country.
In a special sitting, a bench of Justice Dalveer Bhandari and Justice Deepak Verma said that additional food grains for below poverty line (BPL) people will be distributed under the supervision of the Justice D.P. Wadhwa Committee.
The Justice Wadhwa Committee, in consultation with the central government, would identify the sections of the poor populace that should be reached with additional allocations, the court said.
It directed the chief secretaries of the states that will receive the additional stock to first distribute their existing stocks of food grains and only then start distributing the additional allocations.
During the last hearing of the matter, the central government had told the court it would release 50 lakh tonnes (five million) of food grains under the Public Distribution System (PDS).
The court’s direction came in the wake of a petition by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) seeking direction to the central and the state governments ensuring that BPL families should get their share of allocated food grains.
In the last hearing when the court’s attention was drawn to reports on the burning of the contaminated foodgrains in Punjab, the court had said: ‘What you (the central government) have done is not adequate. At least the grains (that) you can’t store, you give them (to hungry).’
The court had asked the government why it could not give the surplus food grains, that it can’t store, to the hungry people at subsidised rates.
‘Why can’t you give it subsidised rates to hungry populace. You have it. You can’t store it. You can’t destroy it. Give it to the people who need it,’ the court said.