The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:
The "Antyodaya" scheme announced by the Prime Minister for providing cheap foodgrains to the poor is an inadequate and insufficient response to the problem of huge accumulated stocks of foodgrains in the Food Corporation of India godowns. At present, there are 40 million tonnes of foodgrains stocks with the FCI. Over and above the minimum levels of stocks to be maintained, there are 22 million tonnes of excess stocks. The scheme announced provides for one crore families being given 25 kg a month of wheat or rice at Rs. 3 and Rs. 2 per kilo respectively. This will cover only a fraction of the excess stocks.
The best way to utilise the excess stock would be to reduce the prices of foodgrain supplied through the Public Distribution System. It is the high issue prices which has made it unaffordable to the poorer sections resulting in reduced off-take. Simultaneously, the government should have chalked out a massive `food for work’ programme which could have generated both employment and disposed off the accumulated food stocks.
The scheme announced by the Vajpayee government will, therefore, have a limited impact. The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) strongly urges the government to expand the current scheme by reducing the prices of foodgrains issued through the public distribution system and initiation of a `food for work’ programme.