The State government would construct semi-covered godowns at 20 places in delta districts during the current year in order to increase the volume of storage of paddy being procured from the farmers, said J. Radhakrishnan, Secretary, Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Protection.
Speaking to reporters after inspecting some fair price shops and the godowns of the Civil Supplies Department here on Wednesday, he said the State had full-fledged godowns to stock 13.5 lakh metric tonnes of various commodities mainly paddy. In addition to them, private buildings had been taken on rent to store about 3.5 lakh metric tonnes at various places. Yet there was a shortage of godowns to store paddy mainly during peak harvesting seasons. In some places, paddy had been kept in open places by covering it with tarpaulin.
To address the issue, it had been decided to construct semi-covered godowns at 20 places in delta districts. They would have the capacity to stock 2.8 lakh metric tonnes of paddy. In Tiruchi, semi-covered godowns would come up at Athavathur and Irungalur.
Mr. Radhakrishnan said the Chief Minister had given instructions to ensure transparency in Direct Procurement Centres. Monitoring committees at the union level had been formed to look into the grievances of farmers. In Tiruchi district, it had been planned to open 40 DPCs. Of them, 10 would be opened in a day or two.
Vigil had been stepped up to prevent the smuggling of rice meant for the public distribution system across the State. A total of 113 persons, who were termed as habitual offenders in rice smuggling, had been detained at the Prevention of Black Marketing Act. More than 11,000 persons were arrested over the last one year for smuggling PDS rice and more than 2,000 vehicles were seized. It had been brought to his knowledge that there was a nexus between the smugglers and some officials. They were being monitored and tough action would be taken against them, Mr. Radhakrishnan said.