Chandigarh: An additional 50 lakh storage capacity will be created under the public-private partnership by March 2013 to keep food stocks, according to a senior FCI official.
    
"Under the Private Entrepreneur Godown (PEG) Scheme, construction of about 5 million tonnes of storage capacity has been sanctioned for the state (Punjab). Of which, 9,20,000 tonnes capacity has been handed over to the FCI. Another 3,00,000 tonnes is under the completion stage," FCI Deputy General Manager A S Arunachalam said. He was talking to reporters during a field visit to its godowns.
    
With creation of new space, the total storage capacity in the state will touch 25.5 million tonnes under the FCI's supervision. Currently, the state has a storage capacity of 20.5 million tonnes, of which 9.7 million tonnes is in covered godowns and the rest is in open plinths.
    
The entire new space sanctioned under the PEG Scheme will be ready by March 2013, Arunachalam said, adding that the efforts are under way to ensure adequate storage is available for wheat in the coming season.
    
FCI has been encouraging private investment in warehouses through PEG scheme. The central agency ensures full occupancy of warehouses until the investor achieves break even level. Besides, the FCI also has plans to construct modern silos to the tune of 4,00,000 tonnes capacity in the state.
    
"The Centre has sanctioned construction of modern silos with a capacity of 4,00,000 tonnes in the state. The tender for which will be finalised by next month," Arunachalam said.
    
Asked how bad is the storage situation in Punjab, FCI Additional General Manager S K Dhawan said, "As on November 1, FCI is managing a mammoth stock of wheat and rice to the tune of 19.2 million tonnes against the storage capacity of 20.5 million tonnes."
    
The wheat stock is 13.6 million tonnes in the state and the rest is rice and paddy, he added. Dhawan added that the current paddy procurement, which has already reached 12.2 million tonnes, is also putting pressure on storage.
    
"With paddy procurement expected to touch 13 million tonnes this year, the storage situation is tight for wheat right now, which is largely kept in open plinth," he observed However, there is a sign of relief as the centre has approved sale of 6.5 million tonnes of wheat to bulk consumers through open market sale scheme (OMSS), he added.
    
"Sale of wheat under OMSS will ease burden on wheat storage in Punjab. The situation would be comfortable if at least 5-6 million tonnes of wheat is transported from here," Dhawan said.
    
On an average, 1.5 million tonnes of food grains are transported from Punjab to other consuming states every month. The state contributes 40 per cent of wheat and 30 per cent of total rice to the central pool.

(Agencies)

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