Chandigarh, April 10(Geetika):
The Punjab Cabinet, headed by Captain Amarinder Singh, on Friday authorized the Deputy Commissioners to declare new Mandis in their respective districts, as needed, to meet the demands of social distance while ensuring smooth procurement of the grain.
These would be in addition to the 3800 Mandis already notified this year for procurement operations, disclosed an official spokesperson after a Video Conference of the Council of Ministers.
The Cabinet took stock of the preparations for the harvesting and procurement of wheat, scheduled to begin on April 15. It was decided that the procurement arrangements should be finalized and notified by 11th April so that that every grain of the farmers is procured, though in a staggered manner.
The state has already decided to extend procurement till June 15 and has sought incentives from the Centre for delayed transportation to the Mandis by the farmers in view of the COVID-19 crisis. The Centre is yet to respond to the state’s demand.
The Cabinet further noted that the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on procurement of wheat should be widely circulated and publicized so that all protocols, including provision of sanitisers, handwashing arrangements etc, can be strictly complied with. DGP Dinkar Gupta has already been asked to come out with a comprehensive security plan for the Mandis.
The Cabinet was informed that while 73% of the state’s requirement for gunny bales had been met already, the remaining shortage of 7.2 lakh bales would be met with PP bags if the West Bengal government does not open production in time. As of now, West Bengal has only resumed transportation of the 27000 bales which were ready.
ACS Development Viswajeet Khanna said rules had been amended to make payments to farmers through the Arhtiyas instead of direct bank transfer that was to be introduced this year. The Chief Minister had earlier suggested the change in order to maintain continuity and stability in these difficult times. The Mandi Board has already extended the validity of the licenses of the Arhtiyas, which were to expire on March 31, till the wheat procurement operations in the state are over. The Arhtiyas would be paid within 48 hours of procurement and would, in turn, be required to pay the farmers in the next 48 hours.
Khanna informed the cabinet that the 3718 purchase centres set up in the state included 153 main yards, 283 sub yards, 1430 purchase centres and rice mills. Nearly 137 lakh MT of wheat is expected to arrive in the mandis of which 135 lakh MT would be purchased by government agencies while two lakh MT by the private traders. Khanna said that the Centre has fixed MSP of wheat at Rs 1925 per quintal for the current RMS against Rs 1840 MSP fixed last year.
A farmer shall be entitled to take multiple coupons each day or on different days depending on space in order to avoid rush in the mandis. About 27 lakh coupons would be issued by market committees to Arthiyas. Farmers with each coupon will be entitled to bring one trolley having about 50 quintal wheat.