Punjab godown owners miffed over new rent scheme; ask authorities to vacate

Unhappy with the new rent scheme, the Punjab godown owners have stopped accepting the rent and have asked the FCI and state department to vacate the godowns by removing the grain stocks
Punjab godown owners miffed over new rent scheme; ask authorities to vacate
Punjab godown owners miffed over new rent scheme; ask authorities to vacate
Published on Jun 22, 2022 12:17 AM IST
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By, Chandigarh

A section of godown owners in Punjab has asked the FCI and the state food and civil supplies department to remove grain stocks from their godowns following reservations over the new rent scheme under which payment is made to them on actual utilisation basis (AUB) instead of the old method where they were paid on the basis of the total built up capacity.

In February, the FCI lifted the old rent guarantee scheme and asked the godown owners that rent would be paid as per the actual utilisation basis. For a quintal of grain stored in these godowns, a rent of 4.5 was paid equivalent to the build-up capacity. Under the new scheme, rent is now paid as per quantity of grain stored.

There are about 50 godowns located in Malwa belt of the state, including in Bathinda, Fatehgarh Sahib, Ferozepur, Mansa, Moga, Nabha, Lehragaga and Sunam and have a capacity between 7,200 tonnes to 104,000 tonnes, which are now targeted under the new scheme. More godowns under the scheme would be added later.

A section of owners of the godowns in the state, with a total capacity of storing at least eight lakh tonnes, are in a deadlock with the state food and civil supplies department and the Centre’s food corporation of India (FCI) over the new rent scheme.

The godown owners have stopped accepting the rent and have asked the FCI and state department to vacate the godowns by removing the grain stocks. Owing to this decision, the state’s nodal agency Pungrain has also not received the charges for handling of the food grain from the FCI.

When constructed in 2012, these godowns were offered under the private entrepreneurship scheme (PEG) with a guarantee of giving rent as per the capacity even if stored grain is less than that for a period of seven years and extended for three more years.

“We want the guarantee scheme to continue,” said a godown owner, adding that in November, more godowns of an estimated capacity of 40 lakh tonnes will be added in actual utilisation basis scheme.

“We agree that the scheme was for a period of seven years and later extended for three more years, but what’s the benefit for us when the ten years period have gone into paying back the loans to the banks which we had raised to build storage facility and when it’s time to reap the benefit, scheme has been cut short,” adds the godown owner.

Hemant Jain, FCI’s regional head in Punjab, said, “it is a policy matter being dealt by the FCI’s top management in New Delhi. We have offered actual utilisation basis scheme for six months after which we are hopeful of a new scheme.”

The officers in the state department have termed the demand by the godown owners as an “arm twisting tactic”.

“The government had supported them (godown owners) in bearing the capital expenditure and now when they have paid back the loans and their properties are free from the loans, we are offering them rent on actual utilisation basis, and moreover, they have negligible operational expenditure,” said an officer in state department with the condition of anonymity.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Gurpreet Singh Nibber is a special correspondent with the Punjab bureau. He covers agriculture, power sector, Sikh religious affairs and the Punjabi diaspora.

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