The public-entrepreneur godowns (PEG 2011) scheme for building covered storehouses for grain in Punjab is in limbo, even though many of the new stores are ready to use.
The authorities' failing to use the new space will only enhance the government's problem of keeping the procured wheat safe this season. Even the private players involved in the project are losing income from rent, as the stockrooms are empty.
The government of India appointed Pungrain (Punjab state grain corporation) its nodal agency to invite bids for participation in PEG. The object was to build storage space in time for the rabi procurement season 2012-13 (current wheat harvest year) under the guarantee of storage for seven years by the central agency, the Food Corporation of India (FCI).
The high cost of land in Punjab meant that the private partners could build only 60% of the capacity required, and the FCI, guarantor, was to take over the facilities by April 1, a deadline long over.
With wheat arrival and procurement in top gear, and the purchased stock awaiting lifting , the warehouses are yet to get the fist sacks anywhere in Punjab. Sky is overcast.