| Sacks of rotten potatoes at the cold storage facility in Golaghat. Telegraph picture |
Golaghat, Sept. 2: More than 1,200 quintals of potatoes have rotted in a government-owned cold storage at Furkating, around 8km from here, due to a technical fault in the storage.
The potatoes belong to farmers of nearby 30 villages, including Jamuguri, Lakhibari, Amguri, Kalujan, Nugura, Guwaltup, Dousomuwa and Rupkolia.
The incident came to light when some of the farmers visited the cold storage today and found the potatoes in a rotten state. They also noticed that the potatoes have started sprouting.
Narayan Bora, caretaker of the cold storage, said there were 6,200 bags of potatoes, weighing 50kg each, in the storage. Farmers had deposited their produce in April but as there was no electricity supply for about 20 days, the potatoes must have rotten during that period, he added.
The district agriculture officer, D. Gogoi, told this correspondent that the cold storage was given on lease and it was after the expiry of the lease period that they came to know that the lessee had defaulted a large amount of electricity bill. As a result, power supply to the cold storage was suspended. It was during this period that potatoes rotted.
Later, the deputy commissioner, Julie Sonowal, formed a committee to look after the cold storage and also requested the electricity department to resume power supply.
“The farmers have submitted a memorandum, seeking compensation for the loss they have incurred. We have assured them of help in getting rebate in repayment of Kishan Credit Card (KCC) loans as there is no fund to provide compensation,” Gogoi said.
Protap Saikia, a farmer, whose produce was also in the storage, said a bleak future awaits him as his year-long toil had been wasted.
The storage, which has a capacity of 2,500 tonnes, was constructed under the District Development Fund and the self-employment scheme of District Rural Development Agency (DRDA).
Since its inauguration on May 7, 2010 by PWD minister Ajanta Neog, it was being operated on lease basis, which expired on March 31. After the expiry of the lease period, neither the agriculture department nor the DRDA came forward to shoulder responsibility of the storage.
If matters remain the same, the cold storage might cease to exist and the district will have to do without the only government-owned cold storage.