Punjab has a big ‘grains problem'

With Rabi harvest season round the corner, Punjab faces the problem of storing about 115 lakh metric tonnes (MT) of wheat that will arrive in the grain markets. The storage facilities are almost clogged with 135.5 lakh MT of previous stocks of wheat and rice.

After reviewing the situation, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal decided to call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Food Minister K.V. Thomas to seek their personal intervention for the expeditious evacuation of the existing stocks to other States.

Mr. Badal was apprised that the Union government, through the Food Corporation of India, had worked out steps to create covered space to store an additional 71 lakh MT of grains. While the State government went ahead by floating tenders for the construction of this capacity, the Centre, without taking Punjab into confidence, reduced the allotted space to 51 lakh MT, after diverting 20 lakh MT of storage facility to other States. Even after the construction of the sanctioned space, Punjab would have to store around 30 lakh MT of wheat on unscientific plinths and have a shortage of covered space for the next rice crop.

Mr. Badal asked Food and Civil Supplies Minister Adesh Pratap Singh Kairon to intensify efforts for the Union government's prompt clearance for the creation of space for scientific storage of at least 25 lakh MT in the State. He directed the Chief Secretary to coordinate with the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Food and settle pending issues related to procurement by the FCI.

Mr. Badal also asked the Secretary of the Food and Supplies Department to have close liaison with all Deputy Commissioners and District Food and Supplies Controllers to ensure smooth and hassle-free procurement.

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