Sambalpur: The state government had proposed to set up a cold storage terminal to facilitate storage of perishable commodities as well as to provide better marketing opportunities to farmers of 10 districts of western Odisha.
Taking a step forward, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had laid the foundation stone here in 2014 and announced a grant during one of his visits to the district. However, after a lapse of five years no further progress has been made in this regard.
There has been no coordination between the contractor firm and the state government. The contractor was asked to deposit a sum of Rs 1.3 crore for conversion of land type of the government land, which was identified for the purpose.
Despite repeated letters, the firm says, “Civil construction work will start after the government provides land”. Notably, the cost of building materials has escalated in the mean time further enhancing the estimated project cost.
In such circumstances, the proposed cold storage terminal has eluded farmers of western Odisha as the contractor firm is now backtracking. Local farmers have demanded a time-bound completion of the project.
The state government had identified 60 acres at Nildunguri village under Jujumara tehsil in Sambalpur district which is 16 km from the district headquarters with an estimated cost of Rs 7.4 crore. It is said, the estimated cost has now escalated to more than 100 crore, after five years.
Moreover, the proposal for the cold storage terminal was put up during a review meeting December 12, 2013, presided over by then Chief Secretary Jugal Kishore Mohapatra and subsequently approved by the Union Agriculture Ministry.
Reports said, the project included large capacity cold storage facilities for agricultural produces, quality control systems, multiple jetties, weighing and packaging facilities for local farmers.
It was proposed to ensure the food security programme in the region, along with giving reasonable price to farmers for their crops. Furthermore, the project targeted to collect foodgrains from farmers of Kalahandi, Subarnapur, Bolangir, Boudh, Sundargarh, Angul, Nuapada, Bargarh, Jharsuguda, Deogarh and Sambalpur districts.
It is known that wide varieties of flowers, vegetables, fruits, medicinal plants, oilseeds and pulses are grown in this region of western Odisha and the project would immensely support farming activities.