An agrarian state like Assam needs all infrastructural support for its farmers. Cold storages to preserve farm produce is a vital component in the support system, in the absence of which farmers are forced to sell perishable crops, fruits and vegetables at distress prices in the fields. The prices of such foodstuffs are consistently high in Guwahati and other cities and towns in the state, which means that there is a large chain of middlemen profiting from the plight of farmers. As if that is not enough, it is regularly reported how corrupt elements of traffic police and illegal check gates operated by mafias extort ‘taxes’ from every consignment of perishable foodstuffs being transported to the State’s urban centres. There have been long-standing demands by various farmer and cultivator bodies that the Assam government should set up cold storages in different parts of the State. But now comes the sad news that of the ten government cold storages, five are defunct. The Tarun Gogoi government talks about improving the farmers lot, but it has been totally apathetic in repairing and putting back into operation the defunct cold storages at Khapara, Byrnihat, Patgaon, Rowta and Chenijan. Embroiled in humongous scams in implementing Central schemes, the Agriculture department has shown no interest in keeping all its cold storages up and running. This failure can be contrasted with 24 cold storages owned by the private sector in the State, all of which are functioning despite the erratic power scerio in the State.
Defunct Cold Storages