Amid the farmers protests against Centre’s farm laws, the Union government has decided to set up silos with a capacity for storage of 21 lakh metric tonnes of foodgrains in Punjab.
While all eyes are on who would get the tenders for the silos, the allottee would have a 32 year contract under which two years would be given to set up the silos. After this, the allottee would be allowed to operate the silos for 30 years. The government would have to pay the sustenance allowance if it would not have enough grains to store in these silos.
The Food Corporation of India (FCI) has sent the file regarding the setting up of silos to the Union Ministry of Food and Civil Supplies, Government of India after identifying 57 sites where these silos would come up.
In a drift from its existing policy, under which the silos were set up near a railway track for easy movement of rakes containing foodgrains, the Centre has now allowed hub-and-spoke policy under which a main silo (hub), would be rail-fed and have 3-4 spokes, which would be away from the hub and also the rail tracks. These spoke silos will be connected to the hub silos through the road network.
The tendering process will start after a green signal by the Ministry of Food and Civil Supplies, Government of India. The storage in silos is costlier at Rs 90 per tonne every month while the storage in other types of storage is cheaper at Rs 14 to 17 under covered godowns and Rs 4.50 per tonnes under uncovered godowns. However, the storage in silos is considered safe as it is pest and moisture resistant.
In Punjab, granaries have been overflowing with wheat and rice. As many as 110 lakh tonnes of wheat from the last procurement season was lying in the open and covered godowns. The granaries still have 55 lakh tonnes of rice from last paddy procurement season. The state only has 110 lakh tonnes of capacity under covered space. These still have 25,000 metric tonnes from 2017-18 procurement season and 30 lakh tonnes from 2018-19 procurement season.
Ever since the other states, including Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, have started contributing to central pool, the movement has been affected from Punjab. While the state averages outward movement of 6-7 lakh metric tonnes of rice every month, it averages 2-3 lakh metric tonnes of wheat every month from the godowns. The disruption of train traffic had affected the evacuation from the state’s granaries badly.
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