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Govt urged to ease ammonia supply, maintenance work for cold storages

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The owners of cold storages are seeking relaxation to get ammonia, a refrigerating agent, as the measures to mitigate spread of Covid-19 has affected its supply and delay would cause damage to stock of perishables. The lockdown has also affected the annual maintenance and repair works at the storages that are in last lap of stocking up potato for summer months.

“Ammonia is urgently required in many cold storages as the temperature is rising and any delay would cause damage to the perishable stocks,” Arvind Aggrawal, president, Cold Stores Association, said. He said that the supply needs to resume immediately ensuring proper refrigeration the temperature was on rise. There is likely to be steep rise in temperature in coming days and it would affect the potato storage kept for consumption till month of October, he said

Potato tops the perishable items that are stocked in cold stores in India occupying almost 70 per cent of 37-39 million tonnes capacity in the country. The stores also store other perishables including tomato, dairy, seafood, pharmaceuticals etc.

Potato stocking is going on and likely to witness a prolonged session till end of April due to lockdown and rains this year. Most stores are in last lap of stocking of tuber for summer months in main cultivating states like Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Punjab, Bihar, Gujarat and Haryana.

In West Bengal, the administration has given relaxation to cold storages to get supply of ammonia but in many states the matter is hanging fire. “The authorities are not taking up the matter in right earnest as it is not clearly mentioned in the list of essential servcies despite it being directly related to food,” a cold store owner said on condition of anonymity as he did not wish to be identified.

“A shortfall of ammonia extended by few days could cause substantial damage to perishable stocks. A brand new plant operates only after it is charged with the refrigerating agent while others needs to top up on shortfall periodically,” Bhupinder Singh Neer, director, Neer Enterprises, leading manufacturer and exporter of ammonia compressors said.

The cold stores also require running annual maintenance work before start of summer season.


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