Cleaning up FCI’s operations

Source: The post is based on an article “Cleaning up FCI’s operations” published in Business Standard on 18th January 2023.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Issues Related to Development

Relevance: measures required to bring reforms in Food Corporation of India (FCI). 

News: CBI carried out “Operation Kanak” that revealed the corruption in Food Corporation of India (FCI).

What is the issue with the FCI and what has been the response of the government?

The FIR filed by the CBI reveals that FCI officials charged between Rs 1,000 and Rs 4,000 per truckload from rice millers for accepting substandard grains and extending other favours to them.

The nexus, involving FCI officials, private grain traders, rice millers, and various others, has been revealed through raids.

Food and Public Distribution Minister Piyush Goyal called it a “wake-up call” and also urged to follow the “zero tolerance policy for corruption” in the FCI.

However, there are views that there might be more corruption involved in the FCI, given its scale of operation. Therefore, there is a need to bring reform in the FCI.

What reforms are required in the functioning of FCI?

There is a need to bring strict vigilance and use of technology in FCI operations and making its functioning fully transparent.

The suggestion given by the food minister in a five-point agenda such as the use of transparency-oriented technology, including CCTV, in the entire chain of operations, from procurement to delivery, can be inculcated.

There is also a need to set up a grievance redress mechanism for those who have to interact directly with FCI functionaries.

However, the urgent need is to carry forward the process of structural and functional reforms suggested by the Shanta Kumar Committee.

One of the recommendations of the committee was the decentralisation of the food management system by giving greater responsibilities to state governments.

Most states now produce enough cereals to meet their requirements. So, they can be asked to procure, store, and distribute these grains on their own with the supervision of the FCI.

This would reduce the workload of the FCI, thereby reducing the scope for corruption.

 

Print Friendly and PDF