Gurpreet Singh Nibber
In the wake of piling up of foodgrains in warehouses, the Punjab government will build covered area plinth storage of 11 lakh tonne capacity.
This will be a stop-gap arrangement till covered godowns and silos in the pipeline are built, it is learnt.
Pungrain will float tenders for the covered area plinth storage after getting a green signal from the Food Corporation of India (FCI) on whose behalf the state procurement agencies procure paddy and wheat. “The tenders will be floated this month, or it will be too late as the wheat crop would start arriving in the market in April. We need at least two months for construction,” said a senior officer of the state food and civil supplies department.
These plinths will come up in 15 of Punjab districts, with more than half of the total capacity to be in Moga (1.75 lakh tonne), Sangrur (1.55 lakh tonne) Jalandhar (1.35 lakh tonne) and Patiala (1.15 lakh tonne).
Admitting that it’s a crisis-like situation in the state as far as grain storage is concerned, the food and civil supplies department last year asked the Centre to allow a storage of 35 lakh tonne by way of covered area plinths (CAP).
The department will rent open spaces on which wheat will be stored on raised platforms covered with tarpaulin.
Amritsar, Ferozepur, Tarn Taran, Muktsar, Gurdaspur, SBS Nagar, Hoshiarpur, Rupnagar, Mohali and Patiala districts need more storage space whereas it is near negligible in Faridkot, Mansa, and Bathinda, it was found.
The storage space for 7.69 lakh tonne was built last year.
Currently, there is 155 lakh tonne storage capacity in covered godowns in which the state agencies store more 10% more than the capacity.
The covered area plinth storage capacity is 100 lakh tonne while that of silos it is 5.75 lakh tonnes. Of the total 260 lakh tonne available storage, 195 lakh tonne is already occupied while 135 lakh tonne more wheat is expected in four to five months.
At least 140 lakh tonne wheat of the previous two seasons is stored in the state’s godowns, most of which is stored in covered area plinths, exposed to the vagaries of weather. Nearly 55 lakh tonne rice of the two seasons is also stored in the godowns.
Renting a storage space of 11 lakh tonne for three years will cost Rs 200 crore.