A good quantity of foodgrains, lying inside as well as outside godowns, has started rotting. Even if 2.5 crore tonnes of this foodgrains are sent to the market, it will help in controlling the inflationary trend

INDER SAWHNEY N

ew Delhi

The food inflation is galloping towards the double- digit level, reviving last years sad memories. According to sources in the government, it is going to remain volatile, with cereal prices climbing up due to higher minimum support prices being offered to farmers by the state governments.

Food inflation, it may be recalled, was in double digits for most part of last year but it had started to moderate since March this year. It had fallen to a 20- month low of 7.33 per cent in mid- July but has been on the rise since then. What is worrisome is that an RBI survey has indicated that urban households are likely to face inflationary pressure throughout this fiscal year as well as the first quarter of 2012- 13.

But what is worrisome is that the Centre has also bungled on this issue and the result is that while godowns in the country are overflowing and foodgrains rotting, food prices are skyrocketing.

Sources indicate that six crore tonnes of foodgrains are lying in godowns. A good quantity, lying inside as well as outside godowns has started rotting. Even if 2.5 crore tonnes of this foodgrains are sent to the market, it will help in controlling the inflationary trend.

But the moot question is: ” Why is the government not doing this?” The only answer is that it is keeping its eyes glued on the Food Security Bill. After this Bill is passed, the government will be able to, under compulsion, to provide wheat at Rs 2 per kg and rice at Rs 3 per kg.

But, is it a wise move to allow the foodgrains to rot in go- downs till the passage of the Food Bill? ask experts.

In any case, the prospects of the Food Bill being passed in the current monsoon session do not appear to be bright.

Experts say that, unlike other products, foodgrains cannot survive for a long time. Ideally, they say, that the go- downs should be filled afresh every year.

Senior Congress leaders are worried that galloping inflation which had become UPA- 11alt39 s headache last year, can create more problems for the government as it is facing a series of corruption charges. The increase in the prices of onions, fruits and protein- based items can add to the woes of the people.

People are already reeling under the increase in the prices of diesel, kerosene and cooking gas which took effect in June this year. The hike in the price of diesel by Rs 3 had its domino effect on the prices of most items, say party leaders.

The only consolation for the government could be that there is no move to start a public movement on the issue of food inflation like the ongoing Anna- led movement against corruption, say Congress leaders.

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