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Punjab

Shipping of grains out of state godowns starts today

November 24, 2020 05:48 AM

COURTESY HT NOV 24

Shipping of grains out of state godowns starts today
35 freight trains likely to transport 1 lakh tonne wheat and paddy from storage points to other states on the first day

A goods train at a railway station in Patiala district on Monday. HT PHOTO
Gurpreet Singh Nibber

gurpreet.nibber@hindustantimes.com

CHANDIGARH : With the railways resuming freight and passenger services in Punjab after nearly a two-month hiatus, the authorities concerned will start shipping foodgrains in goods trains from the warehouses to other states.

At least 35 rakes (freight trains) are likely to reach various storage points to transport at least 1 lakh tonne wheat and paddy on the first day, it is learnt.

The railway had board imposed restrictions on the movement of goods trains in the state on October 7, after the farmers protesting against the Central agriculture laws blocked the passenger trains.

The railways, however, insisted on running both passengers and freight trains simultaneously. In a meeting with Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Saturday, the majority of farmer unions agreed to allow goods trains as well.

“We hope to get 31 rakes of rice and 4 of wheat tomorrow, requirement of which was placed today. These rakes will be loaded and dispatched on Tuesday. We hope that things will fall in place as the pile-up of grains will be reduced. The state department is in touch with the Container Corporation of India, a subsidiary of the railways, for the movement of the grains,” said director (food and civil supplies) Anindita Mitra.

35 lakh tonnes held up due to restrictions

Due to the restrictions on freight trains, the state could not ship at least 35 lakh tonne grains — 19 lakh tonne rice and 16 lakh tonne wheat — to other states. Punjab could have recouped about Rs 10,000 crore against the cash credit limit (CCL) received in the past for the procurement of grains if the stock had been delivered. The state government was forced to pay a monthly interest of Rs 75 crore for holding the stock.

Over 190 lakh tonne rice and wheat is stored in the state’s godowns. This includes 110 lakh tonne wheat of four state agencies and 25 lakh tonne of the Food Corporation of India (FCI). Another 55 lakh tonne rice of FCI is also in the godowns.

3 goods trains to bring gunny bags

Nearly 90,000 bales of gunny bags are expected to reach the state by Tuesday. Each bale comprises 500 gunny bags. One rake each will reach the dry ports at Dappar, Ahmedgarh and Phillaur for unloading, Mitra said.

The state agriculture department has asked for at least 100 rakes of urea from manufacturing companies such as Chambal Fertilizers, IPL, Kribhco and NFL.

“We are falling short of 5 lakh tonne of urea as we have a stock of 3 lakh tonne available. The agriculture department has asked the urea manufacturing companies to increase the supply,” said chief inspector fertiliser Gurjeet Singh Brar.

“Over 60% wheat crop has already been sown. Once the fertiliser stocks arrive, our role is to ensure an early distribution to the agricultural societies and farmer groups,” he added.

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