Grains brim Punjab godowns, stock crosses all-time high
Godowns meant for food grain in Punjab are full to the brim and the wheat procured recently is lying in the open, vulnerable to the vagaries of weather.
The state has all-time high stocks — 290 lakh tonnes (180 lakh tonnes wheat and 110 lakh tonnes rice) — for the three seasons from 2019-2021. Apart from this, 42 lakh tonnes of paddy need to be shelled and once that’s done, 28 lakh tonnes rice will require covered godowns for storage.
Two years ago, the state stocks touched 320 lakh tonnes and this time, the state has 10 lakh tonnes more grains. Rice is stored in covered godowns and wheat can be stored in open plinths. The cause of worry for Punjab government is monthly movement of food grain from the state to consumer states has come to an all-time low of 10 lakh tonnes last month (April) against the average 18 lakh tonnes.
More than one-third of the total (850 lakh tonnes) food grain stocks in the country is stored in Punjab (300 lakh tonnes) and there is no space in state godowns to store more. The state government has decided to urge the Centre advance disbursal of grain under the public distribution system (PDS) for six months.
At least 110 lakh tonnes (out of total 132 lakh tonnes) wheat procured in the recent rabi season that earlier this month, is stored in open plinths, vulnerable to the vagaries of weather.
The state government is not very happy with the pace of movement and wants the Centre of expedite, as it happened last year when the Centre started distributing food grain under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyaan Yojana (PMGKY) in advance for six months, keeping in view the lockdown due to Covid-19 pandemic. It peaked to 1.25 lakh tonnes on a single day last year, when 40 special good trains, took away grain from the state.
“We want to expedite movement of food grain from the state and have written to the Food Corporation of India (FCI) to increase the movement so that our godowns have more space for the future procurements,” said secretary, food and civil supplies, Rahul Tiwari.
State can store 280 lakh tonnes
Punjab has a total storage capacity of 160 lakh tonnes in the covered godowns and 110 lakh tonnes in the open plinths. “We store up to 170 lakh tonnes in covered godowns and stocks in open plinths vary,” said an officer in the state food and civil supplies department. Nation’s monthly requirement for food grain under the PDS is 50 lakh tones. Punjab’s yearly requirement for PDS is 4.3 lakh tonnes.
As the state food and civil supplies is pushing the Centre’s food and public distribution ministry to lift the grain from the godowns, the central agencies moved 15 lakh tonnes grain in May. Out of the wheat procured this rabi season, 8 lakh tonnes wheat has been kept for distribution in the state and 12 lakh tonnes sent outside the state under the PMGKY.