Now, rice scheme faces storage problem in State

Now, rice scheme faces storage problem in State

Officials are searching for godowns to store additional food grains

Now, rice scheme faces storage problem in State

Even as the State government is struggling to mobilise huge quantity of rice required for launching the ‘rice for Re 1 per kg’ scheme next month, it appears to have confronted a bigger challenge: Lack of adequate number of godowns for storage.

The State Food and Civil Supplies department is at a loss as to where to store such huge quantity of rice. The scheme, which envisages providing 30 kg rice to every BPL family per month, requires additional 1.82 lakh metric tonnes of rice per month. This is over and above 1.77 lakh MT tonnes of rice that the State gets as its monthly quota from the Centre.

In the absence of adequate number of godowns, the department has recently directed its district level officials to look out for empty godowns so that additional rice that will be procured can be safely stored. The officials are learnt to be desperately scouting for choultries, cinema halls and old and abandoned industrial sheds at taluk and district headquarters and taking them over on rent, official sources said.

The department currently has about 482 godowns with a total capacity to store about 1.88 lakh MT of food grains at a time in the State.

Additional stock

In other words, the existing godowns can accommodate additional stock of only about 10,000 MT rice. The department, as a result, has to find ways to safely store another 1.70 lakh MT in the next few days, officials added.

Officials said food grains have to be stocked at least one month in advance for the effective implementation of the scheme. Non-availability of proper godowns has posed a major challenge. If proper arrangements are not made, food grains get spoiled, leading to all sorts of problems. And time has become the biggest constraint as the scheme is set for launch on July 1 – in about three weeks, officials explained.

Temporary measure

Even if the officials manage to find some places now, it will only be a temporary measure. The department has to construct its own godowns in the coming days and this, again, requires huge investment, officials pointed out.

Besides, the officials are also finding it difficult to make arrangements for transportation. Transportation and storage of food grains is estimated to cost Rs 400 crore per annum.

Centre extends succour

After much persuasion, the Centre is learnt to have recently supplied about 28,000 MT of rice to the State for the July 1 launch of the scheme.

It is over and above the monthly quota of the State. The Union government has promised to supply at least half the requirement of the State from August, sources said.

The State government is, therefore, looking into the possibility of procuring rice either through the National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange Limited (NCDX) or by calling a national tender till then.

The NCDX is the online trading of commodities. Merchants trade their commodities online wherein the government can participate and procure rice.

The department is currently procuring tur dal for the mid-day meal scheme through the NCDX.