To prevent the rotting of food grains, the Punjab and Haryana high court has directed the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and Punjab Grains Procurement Corporation (PUNGRAIN) to occupy all godowns constructed by private parties under the "seven-year guarantee scheme of 2008" in Punjab within a week.
A bench comprising acting chief justice Jasbir Singh and justice Rakesh Kumar Jain observed that "while millions of tonnes of food grains are rotting in the open, the respondents (FCI and PUNGRAIN) cannot be allowed to keep the godowns empty."
The bench ordered PUNGRAIN to rectify all such deficiencies pointed out by it in all godowns at the earliest. The directions came during the resumed hearing of a public interest litigation (PIL), filed by Mansa district resident Bhola Singh, seeking directions to PUNGRAIN and FCI to shift stocks of current wheat crop into 27 godowns, constructed under the 7 year guarantee scheme of 2008, in Punjab.
The petitioner had apprised the court that these godowns were of a capacity exceeding 3-lakh metric tonnes and were constructed by private parties in pursuance to tenders issued by PUNGRAIN at FCI's instance. He added that the entire rent of these godowns was to be paid by the FCI, besides reimbursement of expenses to PUNGRAIN for preservation of stocks, supervision and security.
Bhola Singh also alleged that PUNGRAIN had recently communicated its inability to the FCI for performing its part of the contract and the wheat stocks being stored on open plinths were being exposed to the vagaries of nature resulting in loss of public funds.
The bench adjourned the case to August 23 and directed authorities concerned to file their status report.