Owing to acute shortage of storage space,the state government will utilise airstrips in the state to stack wheat. The government is also planning to convert stadiums into temporary storage places.
Confirming this,Principal Secretary,Food and Civil Supplies,Balwinder Kumar said a letter has been sent to the Civil Aviation department of the state for necessary permission to stock wheat at airstrips under its control. The state has witnessed a bumper crop and we need to adjust the wheat stock. Though the airstrips will not be able to accommodate much stock,we hope 30-40 thousand metric tonne of wheat can be stored, said Kumar.
The state has 15 airstrips situated in Ambedkar Nagar,Ghazipur,Sultanpur,Aligarh,Meerut,Farrukhabad,Faizabad,Kushinagar,Sonbhadra,Kheri,Etawah,Shrawasti,Moradabad,Azamgarh and Chitrakoot. We are planning to use seven airstrips for storing wheat, the Principal Secretary said.
The government is also eyeing government polytechnics,stadiums and other open spaces. Usually the polytechnics and staidums have huge open spaces and are covered by boundary wall. It will be open storage system for the season, said Kumar.
Currently,the Food and Civil Supplies department is on the lookout for any open space which is surrounded by a boundary wall for the storage.
The situation has arisen out of myopic vision of the earlier BSP government and a bumper crop this time. The state government did not make proper arrangements for storage space before the season. It has fixed a target of buying 42 lakh metric tonnes of wheat from farmers. Already 14 lakh metric tonnes have been bought while the purchase season will continue till June 30. As of now,hardly any storage capacity is available with the state authorities.
Currently,there is a storage capacity of nearly 45 lakh metric tonnes. It includes 20 lakh metric tonne space of Food Corporation of India and another 25 lakh metric tonnes of state,including Central Ware Housing Corporation. As of now,all these godowns are full with wheat and paddy from previous seasons.
Not an inch of space is available in these godowns. After re-stacking them,some space can be made but that is negligible compared to the expected purchase, said FCI Manager S P Singh.
The situation has turned pathetic as godowns are still holding 10 lakh metric tonnes of wheat purchased from Punjab during previous fiscal.
Amid this,the Centre has announced that the FCI will be constructing silos on PPP model. Silos are storage tanks erected at a height. FCI presently has three silos in UP at Hapur,Khurja and Lucknow with each one of them having a capacity of 25,000 metric tonnes. However,the proposed construction will be available after two seasons.