Punjab seeks PM’s intervention on food grain storage

April 6th, 2011 - 8:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Chandigarh/New Delhi, April 6 (IANS) Seeking the intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Punjab government Wednesday said that if the existing stocks of food grain in godowns were not transported out of the state, a major crisis would result as fresh wheat stocks are piling up as the procurement season has begun.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who met the prime minister in New Delhi Wednesday, urged him to immediately direct the authorities to expedite movement of food grain from Punjab and also augment storage space in the state.

Badal also urged the prime minister to approve at the earliest the construction of covered godowns as proposed by the state government.

The chief minister said that Punjab was suffering on two counts. First, the state was not seeing quick movement of food grain, and second, the central government has not yet given its approval for construction of storage capacity.

Badal said it would be difficult for Punjab to procure and store the fresh crops that may lead to farmer unrest and serious law and order problems.

Punjab contributes over 60 percent of India’s total food grain production.

A state government spokesman said that according to a survey by the Food Corporation of India (FCI), Punjab had a storing space shortage to the tune of 71 lakh metric tonnes (MT).

“In view of this alarming shortage, the state procurement agencies were compelled to store wheat in open and even on unscientific plinths. At present, over 90 percent of wheat storage in Punjab is in the open,” the spokesman said.

“The storage of food grain in open and in rice mills leads to deterioration in the quality of grain, which rots,” he added.

Badal said that Punjab was likely to procure more than 110 lakh MT
of wheat in this Rabi season.

“The slow and inadequate movement of food grain of previous years, coupled with the acute shortage of storage space, would again compel the procurement agencies to store wheat in open,” he said.

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