Godowns brimming, Punjab wants advance lifting of PDS foodgrains
As 30% (190 lakh tonnes) of the total 640 lakh tonne foodgrain stocks in the country are stored in Punjab and there is no empty space in state godowns to store forthcoming wheat crop, the state government has decided to press for the nationwide disbursal of grains under public distribution system (PDS) for six months in advance.
The nation’s monthly requirement for foodgrains under PDS is 50 lakh tonnes, making it 300 lakh tonnes for six months.
Principal secretary (food and civil supplies) KAP Sinha said, “The Punjab government has mooted a proposal for lifting PDS grains in advance for six months to evacuate the stocks. Let’s see how the Centre takes our proposal.”
Punjab’s annual requirement for PDS is 4.3 lakh tonnes. “The proposal is being discussed at a very advanced stage by the Centre, but the issue at this point is how much grains are evacuated from our state in case the proposal is implemented,” said an officer of the state food department, seeking anonymity.
Depending on the requirement of local population, some states give subsidised wheat at Rs 2 per kg and rice at Rs 3 per kg. Some states also offer coarse grains such as maize and bajra at Re 1 per kg.
OF GRAINS ALL-TIME LOW
The cause of worry for the Punjab government is that the monthly movement of foodgrains from the state to consumer states has come to all-time low of 12 lakh tonne against previous average of 18 lakh tonnes.
Around 100 lakh tonnes of wheat and 90 lakh tonnes of rice are stored in state godowns.
In view of this crisis situation, the state food and civil supplies department has decided to create additional space of 33.5 lakh tonne in state by way of covered area plinths (CAPs), meaning hiring open spaces on which wheat will be stored on a raised platform and covered with tarpaulin. However, the grains stored in CAPs are vulnerable to the vagaries of weather.
Currently, there is storage capacity of 155 lakh tonnes in covered godowns in which the state agencies store 10% more than the capacity.
The CAP storage capacity in the state is 100 lakh tonnes and the capacity in silos is 5.75 lakh tonnes.
Of the total 260 lakh tonnes available storage in the state, 195 lakh tonne capacity is already full to the brim. Besides, 135 lakh lakh tonnes of more wheat is expected in two months’ time.
State food and civil supplies director Anandita Mitra said, “Our top priority is to get storage space vacated so that wheat is stored comfortably. As per the current scenario, the entire wheat crop would be stored in open storage.”
640 lakh tonnes total foodgrains stored in country
190 lakh tonnes stored in Punjab godowns
135 lakh tonnes wheat expected to arrive in rabi marketing season
260 lakh tonnes existing storage capacity in Punjab
33.5 lakh tonnes more storage capacity permitted by Centre
12 lakh tonnes monthly movement of grains out of state
50 lakh tonnes nation’s monthly PDS requirement