State to invite bids to hire 33 lakh tonne of foodgrain storage space

CHANDIGARH

The Punjab food and civil supplies department on Saturday conducted a pre-bid conference for building cover area plinth (CAP) for storing foodgrains with a total capacity of 33.5 lakh tonne. As many 50 private players took part in the conference.

Accepting the fact that it’s a crisis situation in Punjab as far as foodgrain (wheat and rice) storage is concerned, the Centre accepted state’s demand to allow hiring of more open spaces on which grain will be stored on a raised platform and covered with tarpaulin.

“It is a crisis situation. Our godowns are full as wheat and rice of previous two years is still to be moved out. So, we have asked for more space from the Government of India and we will float tenders soon,” agriculture director Anandita Mitra said.

The department has carried out storage gap analysis with state procurement agencies – Markfed, Punsup, Pungrain — and the Warehousing Corporation and will float tenders to invite bids. The bids will be called for storage for three years, she said, adding all districts in state need storage except Pathankot, Muktsar and Faridkot. Maximum shortage for storage space is in Amritsar, Tarn Taran and Sangrur districts.

The conference was held in the presence of officials of the Food Corporation of India and state procurement agencies. The bid will be received till February 5 and opened on February 6 to be finalized by February 15. “After that, we have decided to a give deadline of 60 days till April 16 to make the storage space ready,” she said.

Creating a storage space of up to 5,000 tonnes of foodgrains involves an expenditure of ₹35 to ₹40 lakh.

Of the 111 lakh tonne wheat stored in state godowns, 63 lakh tonne is stored in covered godowns and 48 lakh tonnes in open facing the vagaries of weather. Apart from wheat, 84 lakh tonne of rice also stored in state godowns. In the rabi marketing season starting April 1, 135 lakh tonne of more wheat will come for storage in godowns.

What is worrying the state department is slow movement of rice and wheat from the state godowns to consuming states by the Food Corporation of India. The monthly movement of wheat form state is 7 lakh tonne and rice 6 lakh tonne, which 2 to 3 lakh tonne less the monthly average of the previous year. Also, arrangements are being made to store wheat in the rice mills temporarily.

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