The relentless efforts of Mr. Bharat Bhushan Ashu, Minister for Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer affairs today yields high fruits, when the Union Government accept his rationale to shift 12 lakh surplus rice from the brimful godowns of Punjab to Uttar Pradesh.
Divulging more on this development, Mr. Ashu, in a press communiqué released here today, said that the Punjab Government was pressing hard the union government to accept its demand of shifting the surplus food grains over stocked in the godowns of the state to other states in a bid to save the food grains to get spoiled.
Mr. Ashu today called upon the Union Food Minister Mr. Ram Vilas Paswan in New Delhi to urge him to take early call on the repeated request of the Punjab Government to shift the food grains before it is too delayed to use the food grains for human consumption. Besides this, Mr. Ashu also requested the Union Minister to expedite the process of lifting of the wheat and paddy.
The Minister apprised Mr. Paswan that currently, 200 lakh metric tonnes of food grains are stocked in the godowns of Punjab, comprising 109 lakh metric tonnes rice and 91 lakh metric tonnes wheat. “It is an alarming stage as the Punjab state will face acute shortage of storage space to stock the upcoming Rabi and Kharif crop as the agriculture department of the state has predicted bumper procurement 135 lakh tonnes wheat in coming season, which will multiply the woes of the department to store it in the available storage space. He appealed the Union Minister to formulate comprehensive uniformed policy so that food grains in the agriculture based states like Punjab may not get spoiled.
The Food Supply Minister said that Punjab not only grows food grains, but also asked by the union government to manage its storage uptill three years, whereas in states, the food grains are not being stored more than three months. He said that if Union government formulates a uniform policy in this regard, food grains from Punjab can be stored in other states. He said that special permission is granted for only 10-12 goods trains daily to lift grains, which should be increased at least 20 trains for lifting of food grains.
About the current storage situation of the state, Mr. Ashu also brought to the notice of the Union Minister that around 30 lakh metric tonnes grain is lying in open which was purchased last year. He also requested the union government to immediately release Rs.750 crores, which is outstanding on part of union government for preservation of wheat crop by the Punjab state.
Mr. Ashu also brought to the notice of the Union Minister that the rice procured by the state last year, which was to be shipped in central pool, could not be delivered due to the lack of space. He said that the target of supplying rice by the Punjab to the Central Pool by February 2020 was 66 per cent, of which only 52 per cent could be achieved so far.