Over 24,000 tonnes of wheat damaged in Punjab godowns

Over 7,600 tonnes of wheat of 2008-09 year and 5,245 tonnes of wheat of crop year 2007-08 lying at PUNGRAIN's storage at Rampura Phul in Bathinda district, and about 5,867 tonnes of wheat of 2006-07 crop year kept at Chabal in Tarn Taran have been damaged. Besides, 5,215 tonnes of crop procured by PAFC have also got rotten.

Experts blame a number of factors, including storing crop in an unscientific way, snail-paced movement of foodgrain out of the state, acute shortage of covered space for storing crop, for the damage of wheat.

State-owned lifting agency Punjab State Grains Procurement Corporation (PUNGRAIN) has invited tenders for the disposal of 24,011 MT of damaged wheat which is now unfit for human consumption.

According to an official, the damaged wheat is mainly used in making cattle feed or fertiliser.

Notably, in September last year also, Punjab government decided to dispose 6,000 MT of damaged wheat through auction which also got rotten in "poorly maintained" storage capacities.

"The wheat, which will be disposed of through auction, has been damaged because of rains and also lying at open plinths at few places," a senior official of Punjab Food and Supplies Department said.

As there is a huge shortage of covered space for storing crop to save it from the vagaries of weather, wheat crop is mainly stored at open plinths (CAP) at wooden platform covered with tarpaulin in Punjab, which always face a threat of being damaged if not stored as per specifications, experts said.

Punjab, which is the food bowl of the country, has a total covered storage capacity of 96 lakh MT and 99 lakh MT capacity of CAP for central pool. Wheat is mainly stored in CAP while rice is stored in covered space.

The Punjab government in meeting with FCI Chairman Siraj Hussain on Tuesday asked him to speed up the movement of food grain stock through trains so the state should have minimum of stock before the harvesting of next crop.

Punjab has currently 110 lakh tonnes of wheat and 63 lakh tonnes of rice in storage capacities.

Food Corporation of India has shifted 12,500 tonnes of wheat lying at Khaunri in Sangrur to safer places in order to save it from recent rains.

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