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Nilakuthi Cold Storage: Government neglects for 10 years

by IT Desk
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Nilakuthi Cold Storage: Government neglects for 10 years

Manipur produced a wide range of crops, thanks to its fertile soil. In a remarkable feat, the state has grown and sold fruits even outside the state and the country after being flagged off by government officials.
A range of fruits, vegetables, grains, pulses, spices, and other products suitable are processed and exported many times. However, there is a massive drawbacks in escalating its scale due to the absence of integrated cold-chain infrastructure, notably suitable cooling and refrigeration technology, and post-harvest infrastructure in Manipur. It causes large post-harvest losses in Manipur, reducing farmers’ income to an extent. It resulted in discouraging the farmers to focus on their farming activities.
While it is the duty of the government to focus on this major issue, it failed, but to appease people and the other states, the government organizes several festival showcasing pineapple, lemon, orange etc. on a regular basis in the pretext of boosting the state’s farmers. But their modus operandi couldn’t help the farmers and they faced huge loss.
To encourage farmers to grow more vegetables and fruits without the fear of them decaying soon Manipur Food Industries Corporation Limited (MFICL) created a cold storage facility at Nilakuthi Food Park however the cold storage facility created at Rs. 2.79 crore at Food Park, Nilakuthi, remained idle and unfruitful for more than nine years without any concrete plan for renting to parties as envisaged in the project.
The Cold Storage building was constructed at Rs. 44.71 lakh and handed over to Manipur Food Industries Corporation Limited (MFICL) on April 22, 2013 by the work agency. Meanwhile, MFICL had also incurred an additional expenditure of Rs. 2.24 crore on the construction of a raw materials collection centre, a washing centre, etc., and for the purchase of machinery for cold storage. All these machines and equipment were installed from 2009–10 to 2011–12. Further, MFICL incurred an expenditure of Rs. 10.17 lakh on the inspection and repair work of Cold Storage after 3 to 6 years from the date of installation due to faulty electrical connections.
MFICL had invited applications twice, in February 2013 and September 2016, from interested entrepreneurs to utilise the Cold Storage facilities. Although a few entrepreneurs expressed their willingness, MFICL failed to make any allotments until April 2019. Thus, Cold Storage remained un-used for years, the reason for which was attributed to the non-fixation of the rental fee for usage of Cold Storage.
During the COVID-19 lockdown period, Manipur government announced that the Manipur Food Industries Corporation Limited’s (MFICL) cold storage unit located at the food park in Nilakuthi, Imphal, can be utilised for storing surplus perishable food items and produce as an immediate and preventive measure to curb food losses during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Following the government order, cold storage chambers have been made functional, and three out of the five cold storage chambers were utilized by Manipur Organic Mission Agency (MOMA) for the storage of perishable products. However, the facility was used by MOMA for only two months (July 2020 and August 2020) on a payment of Rs 0.60 lakh. As per information available with Imphal Times, no plan for the further allotment of cold storage facilities to entrepreneurs was finalized by the MFICL until March 2022. Imphal Times visited the office of the MFICL to know the updated status report but couldn’t find any staff that could provide the up-to-date information.
Keeping in mind that the PSU is running into losses, this was an injudicious and not well-thought-out investment, and the corporation should be more careful in investing in and operationalizing these facilities.
The state government should conduct a proper investigation to ascertain the bottlenecks leading to these cold storages remaining idle.

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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