The Maharashtra government has shifted blame on Union Food and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar for the wastage of over two tonnes of rice, meant for poor. The foodgrain has been rotting in open godown for over two years in Gadchiroli district.
The state's Tribal Development Minister Babanrao Pachpute, who also happens to be an NCP MLA, passed the buck on the Centre for the wastage. He said, "The Central government buys the paddy crops. The Tribal Development ministry just works as a facilitator. It's the Central government's job to process and store the crops which they have failed."
This comes at a time when the state government has sought financial aid from the Centre to tackle drought-like situation in the state. Pressure was building on the Chavan government to explain why such a huge quantity of foodgrain was left to rot. Rajendra Maraskolhe, the President of All India Tribal Employees Federation said, "It was for poor people through PDS. This is shameful and a gross insult to the hard work of tribal farmers. The state government must act."
The Maharashtra government has already asked for of Rs. 2,281.37 crore and five lakh tonne foodgrain at BPL rates from the Centre to tackle drought-like situation in 15 districts of the state. The state has sought Rs. 782.11 crore for small farmers who have lost their kharif and rabbi crops, Rs. 73.60 crore for grapes, mangoes, orange, pomegranates growers, Rs. 129.39 crore for water supply schemes, Rs. 300 crore for construction of check dams, Rs. 700 crore for other related schemes to cope with drought.