Resumption of train traffic to Punjab has come as a relief for the Department of Food and Civil Supplies of the state as the department prepares to store at least 140 lakh metric tonnes of rice in covered granaries. The disruption in train traffic had affected evacuation of foodgrains from overflowing granaries.
While the Covid-19 pandemic had come as relief to Punjab’s Department of Food and Civil Supplies as evacuation of foodgrains started as a fast pace following Centre’s distribution of grains to the poor, two months of suspension of trains brought the speed to a nought. The state had been complaining of overflowing granaries for last several years and demanding from the Centre to move the foodgrains at a faster pace.
As the train traffic slowly gets back to normal, Food Supplies Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu said that the Food Corporation of India was ready to despatch 31 rakes of rice and 4 rakes of wheat to other states from Punjab. “The movement will start finally. We have heaved a sigh of relief. In the coming months, we will have to keep at least 140 lakh metric tonnes of rice under covered space. Then we will have to prepare for the wheat procurement in five months from now. We needed to evacuate foodgrains badly. We were hoping that at least 50-60 lakh metric tonnes of foodgrains would be evacuated in these two months.”
In April alone 30 lakh metric tonnes of grains were evacuated from the godowns. Later 20.48 lakh metric tonness were evacuated in May, 18.58 metric tonnes in June, 24.17 in July, 29.03 in August. But the train traffic was disrupted in September.
Also, the state would soon get the supply of 60,000 gunny bags that were stuck in Delhi and Rajpura. The gunny bags were already in short supply this year but the transport disruption had compounded the problem. This was affecting the lifting of paddy. The state is set to procure a record 200 lakh metric tonnes of paddy this year. While a record number of gunny bags would be required to lift it, the godowns will have to store at least 140 lakh metric tonnes of rice after shelling the paddy.
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