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Punjab urges Centre to allow construction of foodgrain godowns under FCI guarantee

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: June 18, 2019  | 19:42 IST

Chandigarh, Jun 18 (PTI) Facing acute shortage of covered space for foodgrain stocking, the Punjab government Tuesday urged the Centre to allow construction of godowns with a total of 20 lakh tonne capacity, which will help in storing grains in a scientific manner. Amarinder urged the prime minister to direct the Union Ministry of Food to allow construction of 20 lakh tonne capacity covered godowns under seven year guarantee by the Centre/FCI (Food Corporation of India) so that foodgrains may be scientifically stored in the state. The FCI generally hires godowns for a guarantee period of certain periods for private parties. In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh sought his intervention for permission to construct scientific storage units in the state. The chief minister pointed out that the bumper crops during the last few seasons coupled with slow pace of evacuation of foodgrains in the state had resulted in shortage of covered storage space. As a result, more than 100 lakh tonnes of wheat, out of 280 lakh tonnes of foodgrain stocked in the state is currently stored in open, he noted. The situation had worsened this year because of unseasonal rains resulting in the purchase of certain quantity of wheat under relaxed specifications, Amarinder said in an official release here. Though, FCI had approved the construction of additional silo capacity of 21 lakh tonnes with railway sidings in the state, the same may take four or five years or even more, the chief minister said. As a result, lack of storage space will force state procuring agencies to store wheat unscientifically in the coming seasons and further lead to damage of wheat stocks, he said, while terming this as a national loss. The Punjab government had earlier requested the Union food ministry to allow construction of covered godowns under guarantee by the Centre/FCI. However, formal approval from the ministry was still awaited, the chief minister said, adding that it normally takes about 10 months for a scientific godown to be constructed and only 10 months are now left for the start for the next 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, he said. PTI CHS SHW SHW

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