New Delhi: Sitting on foodgrain stock that is about three times the required level, the government on Monday said FCI will hire private godowns to hold excess foodgrain that is expected to flow in this season.
    
"To meet any increased storage requirement, Executive Directors (zones) and General Managers (regions) of FCI (Food Corporation of India) have been given full powers for hiring of godowns for short-term usage to store the procured foodgrains as per their requirement," Food Minister K V Thomas told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply.
    
The government's grain inventory has build up due to record production and procurement in the last few years. The foodgrain stock was higher by 21 percent at 53.4 million tonne as on April 1, 2012, compared to the stock level on the same day last year.
    
The reserves are about 2.5 times the required norm of 21.2 million tonne as of April 1.
    
This year too wheat production has been pegged at about 90 million tonne. FCI, the nodal agency for the procurement and distribution of foodgrains, expects to purchase nearly 31.8 million tonne of wheat in this rabi marketing season (April-May).
    
The government has capacity to store only 66 million tonne of wheat and rice.
    
To ease pressure on storage, the government is also considering releasing wheat and rice in the open market and through ration shops.
    
FCI keeps the stock in covered godowns, and cover and plinth (CAP) storehouses, where grain is kept in the open on plinths and covered with tarpaulin.
    
Thomas said the government has also formulated a private entrepreneurs guarantee (PEG) scheme for construction of storage godowns. "Tenders have been finalised for creation of storage capacity of 90.74 lakh tonne by private entrepreneurs," he said.
    
Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC) and state warehousing corporations (SWC) are constructing 5.4 lakh tone and 14.75 lakh tonne capacity respectively, under the scheme.
    
The government has also finalised a plan for construction of storage capacity of 5.4 lakh tonne by FCI in the North Eastern states, he said.
    
Replying to another question, Pawar said the government has set up a state-level committee to analyse the storage requirements of the states.

(Agencies)