Punjab seeks Centre's help in foodgrain storage

Chandigarh, June 18 (IANS) Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi's intervention for permission to construct covered godowns for scientific storage of foodgrains to address the acute shortage of covered storage space in the state.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Amarinder Singh has urged him to direct the Union Food Ministry to "allow construction of 20 LMT (lakh metric tonnes) capacity covered godowns, under seven-year guarantee by the Food Corporation of India (FCI), so that foodgrains may be scientifically stored in the state."

The Chief Minister pointed out that bumper crops during the last few seasons, coupled with slow pace of evacuation of foodgrains from the state, had resulted in acute shortage of covered storage space.

As a result, more than 100 LMT of wheat, out of 280 LMT of foodgrain stocked in the state, is currently stored in the open, he said, adding that the situation had worsened this year because of unseasonal rains, resulting in the purchase of certain quantities of wheat under relaxed specifications.

Though the FCI had approved the construction of additional silo capacity of 21 LMT with railway sidings in the state, construction of the same may take four-five years or even more, the Chief Minister noted.

As a result, lack of adequate storage space would force state procuring agencies to store wheat in unscientific locations in the coming seasons and further lead to damage of wheat stocks, he said, terming this a national loss.

The government of Punjab, wrote Amarinder Singh, had requested the Union Food Ministry to allow construction of covered godowns under the guarantee of the FCI.

Formal approval from the Centre, howvever, was still awaited, he said, adding that it normally takes about 10 months for a scientific godown to be constructed, which is precisely the time now left for the start of the Rabi season 2020-21.

The state government is, therefore, running against time to ensure availability of adequate scientific storage space for the next Rabi season, the Chief Minister said, seeking the urgent intervention of the Prime Minister to address the critical issue.

--IANS

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