Chandigarh: Committing to protecting farmer’s interests, Punjab Food and Civil Supplies Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu on Sunday warned ‘arthiyas’ (commission agents) of action if farmers were paid less or payment was delayed for the paddy procured from them. “Action will be taken against the ‘arthiyas’ giving lesser value against MSP (minimum support price) to farmers,” Ashu said in a statement here. He said that in accordance with the Punjab Agricultural Produce Market Rules Act, 1962, it was the duty of the state government to make payment within 48 hours and the amount was forwarded to the farmers through cheques.
Some of the ‘arthiyas’ in the state were not transferring the payment of paddy to the farmers through cheques. Rather they were indulging in cash payments, which was in violation of the rules, the Minister said. “Besides this, it has also been noticed that even the MSP is not given to the farmers. “Any kind of forging and cheating with farmers will not be tolerated and they should be given the full price of their produce,” Ashu said. He also directed the officials of procurement agencies to make sure that payments, in the stipulated time frame, were made and ensure that all the norms regarding procurement process were followed. Government agencies and private mill owners procured nearly 75 lakh tonne of paddy in Punjab this kharif season. The procurement started on October 1, though the bulk stocks started coming after October 10. The state government has already made payments of over Rs 9,075 crore to ‘arthiyas’ and farmers in their accounts. Over 99 per cent of the procurement had been done by government agencies.
The Central government had sanctioned a Cash Credit Limit (CCL) amount of Rs 29,695.40 crore for procurement of paddy in the kharif marketing season 2018-19, against a demand of Rs 40,300 crore raised by Punjab. Punjab has made arrangements for a bumper procurement of 200 lakh tonne of paddy this season. In 2017-18, a total of 179.34 lakh tonne of paddy was procured in the state. Agrarian Punjab contributes 50 per cent of food grains (wheat and paddy) to the national kitty despite having just 1.54 per cent of the country’s geographical area. (IANS)