Government mulling infrastructure status for warehouses

August 10th, 2010 - 7:38 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 10 (IANS) The government is considering giving infrastructure status to warehouses to lure the private sector into the field in a bid to increase storage space and help stop the rotting food grains across the country.
“We are in consultation with the Finance Ministry to give infrastructure status to warehouses,” Food and Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar informed the Rajya Sabha Tuesday.

Replying to a calling attention motion by Bhartiya Janata Party’s M. Venkaiah Naidu, Pawar said efforts were afoot to create more storage facilities all over the country.

“The Planning Commission has approved an outlay of

Rs.149 crore in the 11th plan in aid for construction of godowns, this on completion will approximately create 1.84 lakh tonnes of storage space,” Pawar said.

Pawar also said his ministry is in talks with the railway ministry to use the space available with the railways for construction of new godowns.

The opposition, however, called the minister’s statement “disappointing”. Cutting across party lines, members voiced concern over the loss of foodgrain while millions are hungry.

According to the government, food grains worth Rs.3.63 crore have been damaged in 2009-10. It is lower than Rs.13.03 crore lost during 2008-09.

Pawar said the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development will provide funds for constructing warehouses.

He said the recent increase in production has given way to steep increase in stocks.

“As on July 2010, the stock of food grains in the central pool was 57.85 million tonnes which is three times that of 19.35 million tonnes in July 2006. This has caused a strain on storage capacities with FCI and state government agencies,” he said.

He said FCI officials have found damaged wheat stocks at various storage facilities in UP, Punjab, Haryana and Uttarakhand.

“FCI has taken disciplinary action against a number of officers in Uttar Pradesh. FCI has also suspended eight officers. Senior officers have been instructed to monitor the movement and handling of food grains,” he added.

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