Formulate policy to check foodgrain damage: Ashu

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Published on Feb 18, 2020 10:59 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By HT Correspondent, Chandigarh

Punjab food, civil supplies and consumer affairs minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu on Tuesday appealed to the Union government to formulate an effective storage policy to check damage to foodgrains in the state.

During his meeting with Union minister of state for food and public distribution Raosaheb Dadarao Danve at Ludhiana, he said Punjab was unable to bear a loss of more than 2,000 crore on this account. “Due to limited resources, the state is unable to increase the storage capacity on its own and the Union government should assist the state government in this regard,” Ashu said.

The minister said the state was not only growing foodgrains, but also asked to manage their storage for up to three years as compared to three months in other states. “If the Union government formulates a policy, foodgrains from Punjab can be stored in other states,” he said, advocating sale of foodgrains from Punjab to countries such as Afghanistan or some other South-Asian countries.

He said for lifting of foodgrains, special permission was granted for only 10-12 goods trains daily, which should be increased to at least 20. He also demanded that under the Private Entrepreneur Guarantee scheme, approvals for construction of godowns with at least 20 lakh metric tonnes capacity should be granted.

On the current storage situation in the state, Ashu said that around 95 lakh metric tonne of foodgrains from previous years were being stored in the state, out of which around 36 lakh metric tonne was lying in open storage and around 60 lakh metric tonnes was stored in godowns. Besides this, another 130 lakh metric tonnes of wheat is expected to arrive in mandis in the month of April 2020. “The state will not be able to store such massive inflow of food grains due to shortage of storage capacity,” he said.

Danve, while appreciating the Punjab model of the Public Distribution System, said if foodgrains were distributed to the beneficiaries for a collective period of six months in entire country, the problem of storage as well as damage of foodgrains would be resolved automatically. “With the adoption of this system, 600 lakh tonne of foodgrains can reach the households in one go and the beneficiaries will be benefitted to a large extent,” he said.

FCI general manager (Punjab) Arshdeep Singh Thind, director, food, civil supplies and consumer affairs, Anindita Mitra were among those present.

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