Punjab Chief Secretary Mrs. Vini Mahajan on Saturday reviewed the arrangements and preparedness of the state to contain the COVID-19 in view of upcoming festival season, besides taking stock of ongoing paddy procurement operations and steps taken to curb the stubble burning menace in the state.
Expressing satisfaction over the arrangements made in the state Hospitals for COVID patients during a high level virtual (VC) meeting here, the Chief Secretary asked the concerned departments to send details about Case Fatality Rate (CFR) in the districts, besides ensuring delivery of the post COVID Care Kits to the patients discharged from government facilities. The data of patients should be updated on the COVA app, she added. Principal Secretary Health and Family Welfare Mr. Hussan Lal apprised the Chief Secretary that 35,000 COVID Care Kits have already been sent to the field and still 1000 kits are available at the headquarters.
Complimenting the Medical Education and Research department for crossing the 20,000 COVID testing in a day, Mrs. Vini Mahajan asked the concerned departments to ramp up the oxygen and other facilities in the state and private hospitals as second wave of the pandemic may come after the festival season. As COVID curves are flattening now but the state should be prepared to tackle any situation.
Reviewing the ongoing paddy procurement operations, Mrs Vini Mahajan asked the Food and Civil Supplies Department to ensure prompt lifting of the produce and release of payment to farmers within the stipulated timeframe of 72 hours as directed by the Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh.
Expressing satisfaction over paddy procurement pace, the Chief Secretary said that 23.11 LMT paddy arrived in mandis,out of which 21.93 LMT of paddy has been procured by various agencies till date. With 27.36 Lakh hectares (20.76 Lakh hectares Parmal and 6.60 Lakh hectares Basmati) of area under paddy cultivation, Punjab is targeting procurement of 171 Lakh Metric Tonnes in the ongoing season.
Urging the farmers to bring only the ripen crop to mandis, the Chief Secretary said, for reducing the stay in mandis and smooth procurement operations. It would also minimize the health risk to those engaged in the operations, she added.
Additional Chief Secretary Development Mr Anirudh Tewari apprised the Chief Secretary that elaborate arrangements have been made to ensure seamless and safe procurement amid COVID-19. The Punjab Mandi Board has already notified over 4200 Purchase Points for smooth and safe procurement of paddy. Special efforts are afoot to maintain social distancing and strictly observe health protocols by providing 1.50 lakh masks and 30,000 bottles of sanitizers in mandis across the state.
To avoid mass gatherings and ensure staggered procurement in view of the pandemic, Mr. Tewari said that the Punjab Mandi Board has issued 7.71 lakh passes to farmers so far.
The Chief Secretary asked the concerned departments to ensure strict monitoring to eradicate the stubble burning menace from the state. The Chief Secretary stressed that no combine harvester should be allowed to run without the Super SMS and legal action should be initiated immediately in case of any violation as this trend will further exacerbate the COVID-19 situations.
Responding the appeal of the Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh to ensure zero stubble burning in the state, she said, many panchayats have already joined hands with the state by passing resolutions against the stubble burning, but the target of zero paddy stubble burning would only be achieved when all the panchayats will pledge to shun this hazardous practice. The Chief Secretary asked Deputy Commissioners to impress upon the remaining panchayats to come forward to end the menace.
District administrations have already been directed to make fool-proof arrangement for storage of paddy straw at the village level on common land, cattle ponds, gaushalas and sufficient space should be made available for the storage of Basmati straw during ongoing kharif harvesting season which can be used as cattle feed later by any one, besides ensuring effective dissemination of IEC (Information Education and Communication) activities being carried out in their districts so that no farmer should be left behind from sensitization programme, she added.
The State Government is fully conscious and committed to curb the menace of Stubble burning and Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh is personally monitoring it, the Chief Secretary said, adding that under Crop Residue Management Scheme, State Government has provided various machineries to farmers, both for in-situ & ex-situ management of paddy residue.
ACS Development said that as many as 51000 machines have been provided on subsidy. 8500 Custom Hiring Centres have been operationalised in the State. To motivate the farming community to restrain from burning crop residue, the ACS disclosed that the Punjab Government is providing subsidy worth Rs. 300 crore ranging from 50% to 80% to farmers for the purchase of 23,500 agro-machines/farm equipments for the management of paddy residue during Kharif season-2020. These machines have been provided to individual farmers, cooperative societies, panchayats and farmers groups.
DGP, Punjab Mr. Dinkar Gupta informed that police department has geared up to ensure implementation of COVID-19 safety protocols in view of upcoming festival and ongoing paddy procurement season. He asked all the CPs and SSPs to work in unison of civil administration to check the spread of pandemic.
Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, Punjab Mr. Tejveer Singh, Principal Secretary Medical Education and Research Mr. D.K. Tiwari, Special Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Mr. Gurkirat Kirpal Singh, all Deputy Commissioners, CPs & SSPs and other senior officers of state government also joined the video conference meeting.