CHANDIGARH: Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh has sought PM Narendra Modi's intervention for permission to construct covered godowns for scientific storage of foodgrains. The state is currently reeling under acute shortage of covered storage space with more than 100 lakh metric tonne (LMT) out of 280 LMT wheat lying in the open.
The problem also demands attention because of unseasonal rains, which prompted the government to purchase certain quantities of wheat under relaxed specifications.
In a letter to the prime minister, Amarinder has urged him to direct the Union Ministry of Food to "allow construction of 20 LMT capacity covered godowns, under seven-year guarantee by central government so that foodgrains can be scientifically stored in the state."
The Chief Minister pointed out that bumper crops in the last few seasons, coupled with a slow pace of evacuation of foodgrains from the state had resulted in an acute shortage of covered storage space. Though the FCI had approved the construction of additional silo capacity of 21 LMT with railway sidings in the state, construction of the same may take four to five years or even more, the CM noted. As a result, lack of adequate storage space would force state procuring agencies to store wheat in unscientific locations in the coming seasons and further lead to damage of wheat stocks, he said, terming this a national loss.
The government of Punjab, wrote Amarinder Singh, had requested the Union Food Ministry to allow construction of covered godowns under the guarantee of the FCI.
Formal approval from the Centre, however, was still awaited, he said, adding that it normally takes about 10 months for a scientific godown to be constructed, which is precisely the time now left for the start of the Rabi season 2020-21.
The state government is, therefore, running against time to ensure availability of adequate scientific storage space for the next Rabi season, the Chief Minister said, seeking the urgent intervention of the Prime Minister to address the critical issue.