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State set to reap record wheat harvest

To contribute 120 lakh tonnes to central pool; overflowing stock to pile up on open plinths,mills.

Written by Express News Service | Chandigarh | Published: May 8, 2012 3:48 am

To contribute 120 lakh tonnes to central pool; overflowing stock to pile up on open plinths,mills.

Amid looming storage crisis,Punjab is heading for a record wheat harvest. The procurement on Monday crossed the highest-ever arrival figure of 112 lakh tonnes achieved last year.

“Punjab has surpassed all previous records and the procurement is likely to touch 120 lakh tonnes by the end of the season against the target of 115 lakh tonnes. Daily arrivals too have been as high as 10 lakh tonnes a day against the norm of five to six lakh tonnes in previous years,” Punjab Food and Supply Minister Adaish Pratap Singh Kairon said.

Kairon said the average yield of the crop this year has been seven quintals an acre higher than earlier years owing to favourbale weather conditions and is also reported to be as high as 70 quintals an acre in some areas.

Though the record harvest is good news,it will leave the state grappling with shortage of space to store it. With private traders virtually missing from the mandis,the grain is being procured entirely by the five state agencies and the Food Corporation of India. The department had made arrangements for 115 lakh tonnes of wheat. With the production surpassing this target and an opening stock of 68 lakh tonnes during start of procurement season,the state will have to store 104 lakh tonnes on open plinths (CAP) and the remaining 35 lakh tonnes will be stacked in rice and sugar mills.

The other worry is shortage of gunny bags to package the crop. “We need nearly four lakh gunny bags to pack 100 lakh tonnes of wheat. The supply is monitored by the Director General (Supplies and Disposal). To tide over the crisis,we have been allowed to reuse old gunny bags. I am meeting Union Food Minister KV Thomas in this regard tomorrow in New Delhi to demand abolition of conditions imposed by the Centre on use of old gunny bags ,” the minister said.

While plastic bags had been banned,the Centre is now following international norms for packaging of sugar,wheat and rice stored in biodegradable jute bags.

Kairon to demand kerosene quota back

Punjab Food and Civil Supplies Minister,Adaish Paratap Singh Kairon,said he will call on Union Petroleum Minister in New Delhi on Tuesday and demand the restoration of the state’s earlier kerosene quota. “In the last tenure,we had done way with discrepancies in the distribution of kerosene by supplying the fuel to priority groups such as poorest of poor,BPL,blue card holders and riot/militancy affected families. After the 63 per cent cut by the Centre,the kerosene quota is just enough to supply 10 litres to AAY and BPL families while the entitlement of other categories has been reduced to 5 lakh litres. The Centre has made the cut to bring down its fuel subsidy burden across the states. But they have to show us how the cut matches with number of gas connections in the state,” Kairon said.

Rs 200 crore sanctioned for atta-dal scheme

The Punjab government has sanctioned Rs 200 crore to the Food and Civil Supplies Department for the fund-starved Atta-dal scheme. Adaish Partap Singh Kairon,Food and Civil Supplies Minister,said the SAD-BJP government was fully committed to run the scheme. He said out of Rs 200 crore,Rs 110 has been released while the remaining amount would be disbursed within a day or two. He added that every month Rs 50 crore would be released for this flagship programme of SAD-BJP government.

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