Attributing the success of procurement operation to the preparedness of Food and Civil Supplies Department and the State Procurement Agencies (SPAs), Mr. Bharat Bhushan Ashu, Food and Civil Supplies Minister Punjab said that RMS 18-19 witnessed arrival of 127.48LMT wheat in the mandis across the State which was successfully procured within the stipulated time frame by the SPAs. Precisely, the government agencies have purchased 126.91 LMT while the private traders have purchased 57967 out of the total arrivals. Rs. 19343 crore have been released for the same to the farmers through the commission agents of the State.He said that the arrival of wheat grains was extremely fast. The bumper crop resulted in the arrivals to the tune of 9 lakh metric tonne and at times even 10.50 LMT per day during the peak RMS. This posed a serious challenge to the government towards ensuring timely purchase, lifting and storage.Having worked the statistics well, the Food &Civil Supplies Department took up with FCI Head Office to allocate more specials to the State of Punjab for the months of April-May, 2018 in order to ensure expeditious movement of procured wheat from the mandis directly to the point of delivery. Around 5.5 LMT of wheat was moved directly from the mandi yards to the consuming states through railway wagons from April 15 implying that on an average around 17500 MT wheat/7 train specials were moved out daily in addition to the regular movement of wheat from mandis to the designated storage points. Many a time 4 to 6 LMT wheat was lifted in a day. As of now, the herculean lifting task is near conclusion as only 0.5% of the total procurement remains un-lifted which arrived about 48 hrs ago.
Besides lifting, the storage of the procured wheat grains was also a serious concern. Due to previous years rice/wheat stocks of about 125 LMT already stored in available covered storage capacities, there has been acute shortage of covered storage space in the State. The space crunch coupled with the vagaries of nature made the storage of procured stock, a difficult task. Going by Statistics, the covered storage capacity of the State is 156.44 LMT including 4.75 LMT steel silos, 42 LMT Private Entreprenuer Gurantee (PEG) godowns, Covered Godowns owned by State agencies and FCI, and the other covered godowns hired by State agencies for the storage of wheat.In order to ensure safe storage of wheat, the State Government directed all the SPAs to ensure optimum utilization of the available covered storage capacity by increasing the size of wheat stack because of which more than 100% utilization of covered space has been achieved and approx. 166 LMT has been stored against a capacity of 156 LMT by the judicious and optimal use of covered space. Other 15LMT storage capacities which are safer, raised and are bounded by concrete walls have been identified in rice mills for additional storage of wheat.Added to this is the fact that the State Government made timely arrangements of stock articles i.e. wooden crates, polythene covers, mesh nets etc. required for safe storage of wheat. In fact, 99LMT packaging material was kept ready in hand before the commencement of purchase and was distributed as per the requirement. Simultaneously, more and more material was bought and distributed ensuring that there was no shortage of bardana at any point of time; although at times hype was created against it by some people with vested interests.The Minister complemented the entire staff involved in the procurement process as well as the farmers, arthiyas and labourers for smooth accomplishment of the procurement operation.