Chandigarh: As much as 15 lakh tonne of new storage capacity is expected to come up in storage-starved Punjab by March 2013 even as bidding process for setting up 3.5 lakh tonne capacity of modern silos may start next month.

Under Private Entrepreneur Godown (PEG) Scheme, Centre allocated 50 lakh tonne of new storage capacity which was to be built in Punjab for storing foodgrain and it also included 4 lakh tonne of modern silos.

"We expect 15 lakh tonne of new storage capacity will be ready by March which will take new capacity built under PEG scheme to 30 lakh tonne in Punjab," an official of Food Corporation of India said in Chandigarh on Friday.

Already 15 lakh tonne of new capacity has been built at several places in Punjab, he said, adding rest of 15 lakh tonne would be built later in next year. With regard to setting up silos which will be equipped with cleaning and drying equipments, official said the bidding process for silos might start next month.

"The tenders for setting up silos in Punjab is expected to be floated next month, while workshops are being held for private parties to encourage them to participate in the open bidding for silos," he said.

The Centre had planned to build 4 lakh tonne of silos with 50,000 tonne capacity each at eight locations in the state including Barnala, Amritsar, Patiala, Kila Raipur, Jalalabad, Sangrur, Dhuri and Batala. "Out of 4 lakh tonne of silo capacity, 50,000 tonne of
capacity will be built by Punjab State Warehousing Corporation," he said.

Punjab has total godown capacity of 214 lakh tone including 110 lakh tonne of covered space and rest is covered and plinths. Meanwhile, the movement of wheat and rice from Punjab to other states is expected to be higher in coming months because of allocation of more rakes by railway and higher demand of rice from southern states.

"We have seen improvement in movement of wheat and rice from Punjab through rail in past few months. We hope to evacuate about 17-18 lakh tonne of wheat and rice during December against 13-14 lakh tonne of average movement from the state," official added. However, Punjab government has been demanding from the Centre that at least 20-25 lakh tonne of wheat and rice should be moved out of state per month in a bid to evacuate "bulging" foodgrain stock with shortage of the storage space in the state reaching alarming levels.

After factoring in new storage capacity coming in March, the agrarian state faces space shortage of 40-45 lakh tonne of food grain against the present capacity, official sources said.


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