2 FCI officials suspended, 30 transferred, says Food Secy

In the wake of CBI raids on officials of Food Corporation of India, two FCI officials have been suspended while 30 have been transferred, Food Secretary Sanjeev Chopra said on Thursday.

Addressing a press conference, Chopra said, “What happened in FCI was very unfortunate. We are deeply concerned about the occurrence…”

“Two officers have been suspended because of the fact that they were involved in these activities which got reported and the CBI had also raided them…I’m told that some officers have also been transferred… About 4 category-one officers, including one general manager, 8 category-2 officers and 18 category-3 officers have been transferred out so that they are not able to influence the investigation and other things,” Chopra said, responding to a query.

He said that the government will ensure that these officers who have been involved are taken to task. He also said that there are “systemic issues” which need to be addressed.

“These systemic issues are basically the purview of reducing the levels of discretion, which are there at the level of the field officials of FCI… Towards that end a number of things have been initiated in the recent week,” he said. “First of all, we have a whistleblower policy, which we are now trying to ensure that it is publicized.”

Chopra said the government is also taking steps to reduce the discretion of the FCI officials.

Also read: Wheat prices climb amid delay in open-market sales by the Centre.

“I mentioned about the reduction in the discretion. So, one thing which we have tried in the recent past and that’s been a success and we intend to roll it out swiftly is the automatic grain analyzer,” he said.

“What we are trying to do is bring in a machine, an auto analyzer for grains, where all these effective standards can be calculated or can be found out without any human interface. So that has worked successfully. We are already now decided to do it in 50 locations in this particular month. By the end of January 50 locations would have an auto grain analyzer and we’ll observe its efficacy and success. And then gradually roll it out to all the procurement centers, all the areas where FCI is doing the procurement,” he said.

“So, this one step will go a long way ensuring that the discussion with the official at the field level is brought down to the minimum,” he said. “These are some measures that we have taken in the past one week to ensure that this issue which has happened in the recent past and caused a lot of disappointment is at least tackled to some extent.”

“And, as I said, the more the technology that we use and less the discretion available with the FCI staff, the better would be the performance. So, that is something that we are moving towards and hopefully we will see the results in the coming few months,” he said.

On rising aata (wheat flour) prices, Chopra said there is a “uptick” in the prices of wheat and aata and the government is aware of the issues. He said that “all options are being explored” to bring down wheat prices.

This article has been republished from The Indian Express.