New Delhi, July 7: Sharad Yadav has pulled up senior Food Corporation of India officials for shoddy work, warning them he will have to crack the whip if they do not improve.
At a meeting with corporation officials on Thursday, the Union food minister accused the organisation of negligence.
Sources said the government may have to go beyond verbal warnings and consider suspending officials who fail to carry out their duties.
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has summoned a meeting of state food ministers on July 25 to review the functioning of the public distribution system. This will be followed by another meeting with chief ministers on the same subject.
The Prime Minister and food minister are concerned at the corporation’s functioning.
Yadav is particularly angry with the Orissa, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu units.
Refusing to hear their explanations, the minister accused officials from those units of ignoring all central directives for over a year. He said the corporation had not implemented plans they were meant to execute during this period.
In his discussions with officials, Yadav zeroed in on the discrepancies in the records of corporation stocks in godowns. He said the figures sent in by the state units did not match with central records.
Yadav said the Centre would now only certify the state units’ records after they were signed by senior regional and zonal officers.
Another issue raised by the Centre was the corporation’s delay in unloading foodgrain after railway vans delivered them to various destinations. Yadav said the delay was causing the railway problems since the job, which should take a few hours, was taking four to five days. The minister suggested more labourers be used to hasten the unloading.
The corporation has also been asked to speed up some 8,000-odd pending court cases.
Yadav said this delay was adding to the compensation the corporation would have to cough up in the disputes — the amount had already shot up from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 1 crore.
The Centre wants to widen the procurement base for foodgrain.
At present, grain is procured from Punjab, Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. The other procurement centres — 100 in Bihar, 20 in Orissa and 40 in Madhya Pradesh — are almost defunct.