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New Delhi, August 10, 2010
Minister for Agriculture, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Sharad Pawar today said the long-term solution to prevent damage to foodgrains lay in the augmentation of the storage capacity available in the country.
Referring to the recent reports of damaged foodgrains in godowns of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and State Agencies in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand due to rains and floods, he said the quantity damaged must be seen in the perspective of total quantities handled and larger quantities kept in "Cover and Plinth" storage because of heavier procurement.
Mr Pawar was making a statement in the Rajya Sabha in response to a calling attention notice on storage facilities for foodgrains in the country.
He gave details of the damaged wheat stocks in various depots and said segregation and salvaging had been taken up. After quantification of damages, FCI and State Agencies had to fix responsibility and recover losses, he said.
He said FCI had initiated disciplinary action against a number of officers in Uttar Pradesh. FCI has also suspended 8 officers. Senior officers have been instructed to monitor movement and handling of foodgrain stocks. Teams have been deputed from Headquarters and Zonal Offices of FCI for inspection of storage conditions in the depots, he said.
Mr Pawar said FCI took a number of preventive steps for the safe storage of foodgrains like carrying out regular prophylactic and curative measures for the control of insects and pests. Fumigation is also carried out at regular intervals. The CAP stocks are properly covered with polythene covers and tied with nylon ropes. The CAP stocks are regularly aerated to bring down the moisture content. The CAP stocks are stored on elevated plinths and wooden crates are used as dunnage material. The principle of 'first in first out' (FIFO) is followed to the extent possible so as to avoid long storage of foodgrains in the godowns, he said.
He said the Planning Commission had approved an outlay of Rs.149 crores in the 11th Plan, Rs. 125 crore for FCI as equity and Rs. 24 crore for North Eastern States and Jammu & Kashmir as grants in aid for construction of godowns. This on completion will approximately create 1.84 lakh tonnes of storage space, he said.
The Minister said the FCI had been endeavouring to hire more private capacities in the last two years. As a result, covered capacity has increased from 227 lakh tonnes to 274 lakh tonnes and CAP capacity has gone up from 23.8 lakh tonnes to about 32.5 lakh tonnes between July 2008 to July 2010. The total capacity increase in two years is 55.5 lakh tonnes. During this period capacity utilization has also gone up from 74% to 91% against an accepted norm of 75%. Higher utilization has further yielded an additional storage of 43.84 lakh MT in the available covered space, he said.
He said that, in order to create the storage capacity required and reduce CAP storage, the Department had formulated a scheme for construction of godowns for FCI (as well as for the States undertaking Decentralized Procurement of foodgrains), through private entrepreneurs. Under the Scheme, FCI would give a guarantee of 10 years for the storage charges. About 134 lakh tonnes of additional capacity has been identified for construction in 16 States under the Scheme while identification of capacities in some more States is under progress.