Chandigarh, December 1: The Minister for Food, Civil Supplies & Consumer Affairs, Mr Bharat Bhushan Ashu on Wednesday said that about 187.23 lakh metric tonnes of Paddy have been procured during the Kharif season 2021-22, ensuring seamless procurement in State Mandis across Punjab.
Disclosing this further here, Mr Ashu informed that the procurement of Paddy in Punjab was commenced on October 3, 2021, and ended on 30th November 2021.
During this period, a total of 188.20 lakh metric tonnes (MT) of paddy had arrived in the Punjab mandis out of which 187.23 lakh MT of paddy has been procured by all government agencies including Food Corporation of India (FCI) at the minimum MSP of Rs. 1960 per quintal and only 97, 000 MT of paddy has been procured by private traders.
He said that Rs 36257.30 crore has already been transferred into bank accounts of over 8,20,174 beneficiary farmers of the state. Likewise, out of the total arrived paddy, 186.97 lakh metric tonnes of crop stands procured, which is 99.88%.
The food minister further said that the state government led by Punjab Chief Minister Mr Charanjit Singh Channi had established 3109 purchase centres including 1872 notified manids and 1237 as temporary yards during this season amid the second wave of Covid-19 epidemic to avoid the virus spread and facilitate the farmers.
He said that the Union government had decided to postpone the paddy procurement from Punjab till October 11, which would have caused huge losses to farmers, however, following Punjab CM Channi’s intervention, the Centre government rolled back their previous decision and started the procurement from October 3.
Mr Ashu said that the state government had constituted over 150 flying squads comprising 1500 employees to check bogus billing and unauthorized import of paddy from other states. Apart from this, check posts were set up at 93 places across the borders of Punjab and teams checked 49135 vehicles, leading to 11 FIRs by Punjab Police against 30 accused attempting to import paddy illegally from other states.
He said that a total of 4695.20 quintals of paddy was seized from 21 vehicles during the drive. Besides, the officers of the Vigilance department also conducted surprised checking at various sellers and mandis in the state. They also registered 7 FIRs against the offenders. Inquiry into various cases of bogus billing and unauthorized paddy procurement in Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Mansa districts has been handed over to Vigilance Department to expose the nexus.
Mr Ashu said that in a view to tackling the shortage of gunny bags this season, the Punjab government especially arranged gunny bags from West Bengal.
The Cabinet Minister said that due to pro-farmers initiatives by the Punjab government led by CM Charanjit Singh Channi during the Kharif season, no farmer had to stay in the mandi for more than 24 hours and the procurement, sifting and lifting of their crop was carried out within the time limit fixed by the Punjab government. However, opposition parties attempted to take political advantage by misleading the people of Punjab.
Ashu thanked the farmers, employees of the department, procurement agencies, artisans, labourers, drivers and others for making the procurement process a success as well as hassle-free for farmers this season.