Little storage space for foodgrains, Punjab stares at crisis.

Chandigarh, DHNS: Amid fresh arrival of large stocks of wheat grain, Punjab stares at a crisis of storage of food grains with existing storage space in warehouses far less to accommodate what is expected to be a bumper crop this season.

Nearly 70% of the warehouse space in the state is currently occupied with food grains procured last year.

This stock which needed to be moved has not happened so far, which leaves little space to keep the humongous wheat stock that will pile up in grain markets in the next few weeks with the onset of the procurement season.

Punjab and Haryana are considered food bowl states of the country and contribute nearly half the total produce of traditional crops in India.

Punjab has a total storage space of nearly 153 lakh metric tone. Out of this capacity, only about 35 lakh tone of space is available to keep fresh stock of wheat.

The rest of the space is occupied by last year's stock that is yet to be moved out. Procurement this season is expected to be around 130 lakh metric tone.

While in storage areas, damage and subsequent loss of food grain are not uncommon.

Information from RTI procured by a Karnal resident, Shivam Sharma, has revealed that over 70,000 metric tone of food grain across the country worth several crores of rupees was wasted between 2010 and February this year.

Punjab has asked the Centre to expedite the process to move out the existing food grains.

Sources said, the quantum of purchase and subsequent relocation of food grains from warehouses every month is tardy compared to previous years.

The storage crisis may also escalate in wake of the logjam between truckers and the government over the ceiling imposed on transportation rates.

Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) on truckers is likely to be put in place so that the wheat stock is transported seamlessly. The government has also invited quotations to have additional plinth and covered space for wheat storage.

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