Khanna — Congress (I) ruled deficit states and Hindu traders seem to have conspired to ruin Punjab farmers.
Unlike in the past, bulk of the newly harvested crop lies stocked in the open for want of buyers.
Not only have the deficit states, even the private traders failed to lift wheat for sale in the western and southern states. At Khanna, Asia’s biggest market for wheat, the private purchase is only 17,485 quintals against 1.55 lakh quintals in 198384. The total purchase by private traders in the state is hardly 36,238 quintals, which is almost negligible considering that the procurement had crossed 43 lakh tones on Monday.
With wheat arrivals now back to a trickle, Khanna faces a still bigger problem of safely storing the nearly 10 lakh quintals of wheat that has been stacked in the open by the various government agencies for want of covered space. The condition is likely to worsen in the near future with the arrival of another two lakh quintals of wheat by the end of May. Against the requirement of at least four wheat specials to move the huge stocks out of the state, only one special train carrying about 20,000 quintals of wheat could move out from Khanna during the last two months. If this is an indication of the rail movement, majority of the newly procured wheat would be damaged by rains and inclement weather. Already the state department of food and supplies has in storage about 20,000 quintals of wheat which was procured two years ago. In addition 130 lakh quintals of last year’s crops is also lying in the state god owns at Khanna. Against the available storage capacity of one lakh quintals, the department had already procured three lakh quintals till Monday. Rest of the purchase has been done by Puns up and Mark fed.
The slow movement of wheat is due to the reluctance of deficit states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Orissa to lift wheat from Punjab.
Last year’s purchase of wheat continues to be stored at almost all the places in the state. With nearly 25 lakh tons of wheat already stored from the last years purchase, the condition is likely to become precarious this year. The total procurement is expected to exceed 52 lakh tones keeping in view the increased arrivals varying from 10 to 20 percent at different places.
At the present rate of rail movement, nearly 20 to 25 lakh tons of wheat would be stored in the open in Punjab. Although the state Government maintains that not much damage is inflicted in the “open” storage, the quality of wheat deteriorates badly with the passage of time. Repeated fumigation to kill pests in stored grain is enough to make it unfit for human consumption.
Article extracted from this publication >> May 31, 1985