FCI transports 8,250 tonnes PDS grains via sea route to A&N, Lakshadweep during lockdown
New Delhi: State-run Food Corporation of India (FCI) has transported 8,250 tonnes of PDS foodgrains to Andaman & Nicobar (A&N) and Lakshadweep, via sea route, during the lockdown period, the Food Ministry said on Tuesday.
During the 27 days of lockdown, 1,750 tonnes of foodgrains have been moved to Lakshadweep from Mangalore port which is almost thrice the normal monthly average of 600 tonnes, it said in a statement.
The remaining 6,500 tonnes of foodgrains have been moved from Kakinada Port to Port Blair, and different public distribution centres situated at different islands of A&N, which is more than double the normal monthly average of 3,000 tonnes, it added.
FCI transported foodgrains in two ship vessels to A&N, and in seven small vessels to Lakshadweep Islands since the imposition of lockdown on March 24 to combat the coronavirus pandemic, it said.
A&N as well as Lakshadweep have very unique logistical challenges as these areas cannot be accessed by road/rail from mainland, and sea route is the only option for movement of foodgrains, it said.
FCI is the central government’s nodal agency for procurement and distribution of foodgrains for supply through Public Distribution System (PDS).
“Due to its difficult topography and limited access, it takes herculean efforts to maintain the logistical operations ensuring uninterrupted supply of grains under PDS to the islands.
“Considering the high dependence on PDS in these islands, it is of utmost importance to ensure that foodgrains reach every island well in time,” the ministry said.
According to the statement, about 1,100 tonnes of foodgrains have already been distributed via PDS shops in Lakshadweep, while 5,500 tonnes have been distributed in A&N during the lockdown.
The foodgrains are being distributed under National Food Security Act (NFSA) and the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana (PMGKAY).
While Lakshadweep has already lifted its quota of three months allocation under PMGKAY, A&N has lifted a quota of more than two months under the same scheme.
Under PMGKAY, the government is distributing 5 kg of foodgrains per PDS beneficiary and 1 kg pulses per household for three months for free to ensure no poor goes hungry during the lockdown.
This is over and above the normal quota of 5 kg per person at a subsidised rate under NFSA.
In addition to moving stocks to its main depot at Port Blair, the FCI ensures supply of foodgrains for PDS throughout A&N by moving foodgrains directly to 12 principal distribution centres through vessel movement from Kakinada Port, Andhra Pradesh.
The PDS requirement of Lakshadweep Islands is met from 2,500 MT FCI godown at Androth.
The foodgrains are moved to FCI Androth through vessels from Mangalore Port, Karnataka, and the union territory’s administration undertakes further movement to the smaller islands from Androth.