Bhagola: One of the biggest open foodgrain storages, Bhagola, in Haryana has put a question mark on the government's claim that wheat can be stored in the open without any damage even during monsoons. The rain easily beats one of the most inefficiently managed open storages for wheat where 2.5 lakh sacks of wheat are left to the mercy of the elements. The rotting grain easily absorbs water, it seeps through gaps in the folds in the sacks and the rot spreads. As it is located at a low lying area, water quickly gathers on these covers making it a breeding ground for insects.
The government's claim is just opposite to what the ground reality is. From inadequate covers to no covers, from water logging to water seepage, the place is unfit for the grain storage. Even if you walk on the ground, you are actually walking on the layer of rotting wheat.
The damaged wheat is filled in the new sacks with this year's date (2013-14). When enquired, it was learnt that the grain can never be same as before. "No, it will never be the same as before. We just dry it and then fill it in sacks." said Ravi Kumar, a guard of the place.
The open storage has adverse impact on nearby villages too. The worst time for the village Meerapur is when the damp wheat is sprinkled with chemicals. The insects, feeding on the wheat, swarm into the village.
"The stink is so strong that we cannot have our food. Insects are everywhere. They get into out water, our food, our dough even while we are kneading it," said Dayawati, one of the villagers.
"These insects swarm into our village. We cannot walk on the road. They get into our eyes, they get into the wheat that is stored inside the house also. We want this godown to be shifted," said Khemsignh, another villager.
Some of the villagers alleged that the lapse in Bhagola is deliberate. "There is a loss of wheat while transporting it. To make up for the loss in weight, they deliberately allow the wheat to get wet in the rain as damp wheat weighs more. This dampness leads to insects feeding on it. And when they lift the covers to tread it with chemicals, all the insects come into our village," said Gajender Singh, one of the villagers.
In view of the problems faced, Meerapur village has now petitioned the administration to shift the location of the open storage. The government said 66,000 metric tonnes if wheat has been declared unfit for consumption but the actual loss could be much more.
It is not just the financial loss, but rotting wheat is also giving rise to many other problems. Rising hunger, corruption, environmental damage are a few of them.