The procurement agencies have procured more than 93 per cent of the total arrived wheat in the mandis of Punjab so far and payments amounting to Rs 7,594 crore have already been transferred to the bank accounts of 2.26 lakh beneficiary farmers under the newly implemented direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme.
The Chief Secretary, Ms Vini Mahajan, disclosed this after chairing a high-level meeting to review the ongoing wheat procurement operations amidst the Covid surge in the agrarian state, here on Saturday.
She said 71.48 LMT of the 76.32 LMT wheat had already been procured, which accounts for over 93 per cent of the total arrival. This was despite the fact that nearly 300 per cent more wheat has arrived in the mandis this year as compared to 29.32 LMT arrival recorded during the corresponding period last year of which 27.32 LMT was procured in the previous Rabi marketing season till this day.
Reiterating Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s resolve of procuring every single grain of wheat arriving in the mandis, the Chief Secretary said the state government has already set up ‘farmers help desks’ in the grain markets across the state, where Mandi Board officials and IT professionals were assisting the peasants in their registration on the Centre’s ‘Anaaj kharid’ portal to ensure timely payment directly into their bank accounts under the DBT scheme.
As many as 7 lakh of the 10 lakh farmers have already uploaded their documents on the said portal in the state till date.
Instructing the Food and Civil Supplies department and Mandi Board officials to ensure timely payment to the farmers and seamless lifting of the procured stocks from the mandis, Ms Mahajan sought further acceleration in the pace of lifting of the purchased food grain from the mandis to avoid overcrowding and any loss to the procured stocks due to inclement weather.
She informed that nearly 22,000 arhtiyas (commission agents) were earlier registered with the Food and Civil Supplies department and payments were transferred into their bank accounts for making further payments to the farmers. However, from the current Rabi marketing season with the introduction of the DBT scheme, the payments were being directly transferred by the procurement agencies into the bank accounts of the farmers for the sale of their produce.
To ensure the health and safety of farmers, the arhtiyas, labourers, employees of procurements agencies and other stakeholders, the Chief Secretary said the state government has set up Covid vaccination camps in all 154 market committees across the state to inoculate the people above the age of 45 years visiting grain markets. More than 6,142 eligible persons have been vaccinated at these camps in the state so far.
The Additional Chief Secretary Development Anirudh Tiwari pointed out that the state control room set up by the Mandi Board has effectively resolved all 650 telephonic complaints/ issues related to the wheat procurement so far to the satisfaction of the complainant farmers. He also informed that 12.44 lakh passes had been issued so far to the farmers to manage the staggered movement of wheat in view of the Covid crisis to avoid overcrowding in the mandis.
On the issue of lifting, the Principal Secretary Food and Civil Supplies KAP Sinha informed that at present, there was no shortage of gunny bags in the grain markets. However, there were initially some problems due to the non-functioning of the jute mills in Kolkata at its full capacity due to the ongoing Assembly elections in West Bengal, which had adversely impacted the supply of gunny bags in Punjab.
He also informed that 14.2 crore gunny bags had already been used for packaging of wheat besides one crore bags per day were being supplied to all the grain markets across the state.