9% interest to be paid if payments to farmers are delayed during upcoming procurement: Khattar

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Chandigarh, Mar 23 (PTI) An interest of 9 per cent would be paid to farmers if payments for their crops procured during rabi season, commencing from April 1, get delayed, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar announced on Tuesday.

The payments for the crops procured would be made directly into the verified accounts of farmers.

The chief minister said this while presiding over a review meeting of officers engaged in the upcoming procurement season held here. Deputy Chief Minister, Dushyant Chautala was also present in the meeting, an official statement said.

'Farmers must receive payment of their procured produce within a stipulated time period. Any delay in payment would not be tolerated. Responsibilities should be fixed to ensure that farmers are paid on time,” said Khattar.

During the meeting, Khattar also reviewed the arrangements being made for the smooth procurement of crops and directed the concerned departments and procurement agencies to ensure that farmers do not face any inconvenience while selling their produce in different mandis across the State.

'Hassle-free and time-bound procurement should be ensured by making advance scheduling plans so that farmers do not face any problems,' Khattar directed.

The chief minister said that in view of the sudden surge in COVID-19 cases in the state, like last year, the required number of procurement centres should also be increased ensuring hassle-free procurement.

Procurement of wheat and mustard would commence from April 1 while procurement of other crops would start from April 10. Timely identification of places required for setting up these procurement centres should be done at the earliest, Khattar directed the officials.

'Suitable transportation arrangements should be made for lifting of the crops from the mandis on time and if any transporter fails to lift the crops within 48 hours, then the Deputy Commissioners should remain ready with any alternative transport arrangements,' he said.

During the meeting, Additional Chief Secretary, Food Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department, Anurag Rastogi, informed that Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)/guidelines have been issued to every Deputy Commissioner for strict implementation throughout the procurement season. The Deputy Commissioners have been directed to ensure that COVID-19 safety protocols are strictly followed at each procurement Centre, he further informed.

While presiding over a review meeting regarding COVID-19 vaccination drive, crop procurement and other issues with senior officials of various departments here last week, Khattar had said during this year's procurement process, the state government has decided to ensure 100 per cent transfer of direct online payments in the accounts of the farmers.

Last year, the state had transferred more than 50 per cent of the payments directly to the accounts of the farmers and the rest of the payments were made through Arhtiyas (commission agents), Khattar had said. PTI SUN VSD MKJ