Thousands of tonnes wheat rots in PUNJAB
Sirhind, December 23
Thousands of tonnes of wheat procured by the Punjab Agro Industries Corporation this season and stored in the open has been rotting at some places in the state. Procured in May this year, it was stored on open plinths and fields rented by the agency.
At Kotla Bhai Ke village, fungus has appeared in hundreds of wheat bags and at Dera Miran Mir village thousands of tonnes of wheat has been infested with insects, besides rotting due to fungus.
While figures of the extent of the damage in terms of tonnes (mt) are not available at both places operations are on to contain the damage. The state will lose millions spent on procurement, transportation and storage of wheat.
At Kotla Bhai Ke, 16,000 tonnes of wheat procured this season (2008-2009) is stored in the open. Wheat bags are stacked on wooden crates in a field. The 2-foot-high brick plinth on which the wheat should be kept in case it has to be stored in the open is not there. These crates have been eaten up by white ants and the bags touch the ground. Several stacks are not covered with plastic sheets due to which rainwater seeps in.
At Dera Mira Mir village,11,000 tonnes of wheat is stored. A large part of this wheat was procured in the last season. Most of this one-year-old wheat and also the fresh stock is infested with insects (susri) and fungus.
Here the bags are stacked on raised brick platforms, but the maintenance of the stock has been poor. Sources said for many months several stacks were lying uncovered. Also the stock was not treated in time with pesticides. “We were not given covers and pesticides in time by the agency,” said a worker at the plinth.
MD, Punjab Agro Industries Corporation, SK Sandhu said a team of officials would be sent to the villages tomorrow to report the extent of the damage. “In case the wheat has rotted we will fix responsibility and take action,” he said.
The sources added problem of stored wheat rotting is expected to aggravate in comings months. Due to the sluggish movement of grain to other states, the wheat procured in last season too is lying stored in Punjab. At a meeting of the various procurement agencies held today it was pointed out there was likely to be a shortage of storage space for at least 50,000 tonnes of grain in next procurement season.