Sangrur: Punjab has yet again reaped a bumper crop, but the big question is where will it be stored? Starting April 1, 150 lakh tonnes of wheat are set to arrive in Punjab's procurement centres, but only 60 lakh tonnes can be stored safely. Worse, only 15 crore of the 50 crore gunny bags that are needed for storage are available.
"We have a shortage of space. We will manage though, we have already spoken with rice shellers to store some wheat, but yes there is a space crunch," Deputy Commissioner Sangrur Kumar Rahul said.
The problem is compounded since wheat that was procured earlier has not yet been moved out of Punjab. "The movement of wheat is also slow. We still have half the stored wheat of last season lying with us," Rahul said.
"We have severe shortage, we have written to the government several times for proper plinth storage, but that has not happened," Punjab Food Agency Officer Barjinder Singh said.
For the farmers who've toiled all year long, the prospect of their harvest rotting is heartbreaking. "We have raised the crop like our own children and inadequate preparations are going to lead to it rotting again. That pains us," farmer Joga Singh said.
The government's inability to move quickly or learn lessons from mistakes will lead to rotting grain in Punjab even as millions go hungry in the country.