Punjab, Haryana stare at foodgrain wastage again, seek help

July 22nd, 2011 - 3:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Chandigarh, July 22 (IANS) Punjab and Haryana, which contribute 70 percent of the foodgrains in the national kitty, say the central government is not doing enough to lift the huge stocks lying in the open in the two states that had once ushered in India’s Green Revolution.

After Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal took up the matter of shortage of storage facilities with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last week, neighbouring Haryana has now asked the centre to lift stocks of foodgrains lying in the open.

Haryana Minister for Food and Supplies Mahender Pratap Singh has urged the central government to immediately lift the foodgrains stored in open spaces as it is bound to deteriorate.

“At present, Haryana has a storage capacity of 45.82 lakh tonnes of foodgrains as against a huge stock of 88.72 lakh tonnes of wheat, which include 0.85 lakh tonnes of wheat purchased during 2008-09 and 5.36 lakh tonnes purchased during 2009-10 and 19.64 lakh tonnes purchased during 2010-11,” Pratap Singh said.

“Besides, 13.75 lakh tonnes of rice and one lakh tonnes of bajra are also stored in the godowns of the state,” he said.

Procuring of foodgrains from farmers is mostly done by state agencies, which are funded by the central government.

Seeking immediate lifting of the foodgrains, Pratap Singh said 70 percent of the stock was stored in open space in the state.

“If the movement of paddy is not ensured till October 2011, its milling would not be possible during the coming season. On an average, Haryana needs the movement of 10 lakh tonnes of wheat and three lakh tonnes of rice every month,” Pratap Singh said.

Farmers are very angry.

“In a country where millions go without food, huge stocks of foodgrains, wheat and paddy, are let to rot in the open in both the states, with the central government not coordinating with them to have proper silos and other storage facilities. It is criminal on the part of the government to waste so much foodgrains,” farmer Shamsher Singh of Fatehgarh Sahib district of Punjab told IANS.

Pratap Singh said keeping in view the storage capacity of Haryana, silos with a storage capacity of 20 lakh tonnes should be constructed.

He urged the central government to give Rs.60 crore so that storage facilities could be built in states.

Punjab and Haryana together contribute over 70 percent of the total foodgrains, especially wheat and rice, to the national kitty. The two individually constitute less than two percent of the total geographical area of the country.

The Punjab government has also lamented the inaction on the part of the central government in creating more storage capacity for foodgrains in Punjab.

Chief Minister Badal told the prime minister last week that against a required capacity of 49 lakh tonnes for foodgrain storage, the total approved capacity is only 22 lakh tonnes.

“There is still a shortage of 27 lakh tonnes for storing foodgrains properly,” Badal said, adding that the arrival of the new paddy crop has further aggravated the situation.

Badal also requested the prime minister to direct the Ministry of Railways to speed up the movement of foodgrains from the state so that more storage space could be made available for the storage of new paddy crop.

He lamented that the movement was too slow at present, with about 15 lakh tonnes being moved per month on an average.
He said a total foodgrain stock of 201 lakh tonnes was lying in the state at present.

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at jaideep.s@ians.in)

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