Amarinder responsible for chaos in Punjab mandis: Sukhbir

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Moga, Apr 22 (PTI) Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Thursday held Chief Minister Amarinder Singh responsible for the 'chaos' in mandis in Punjab, alleging farmers were being 'forced to camp in miserable conditions' at procurement centres due to the state's 'inability to arrange' gunny bags to store the incoming wheat crop.

The SAD president, who visited Goniana Mandi, Goniana Kalan, Maluka, Kotha Guru and Bhagta Bhaike mandis in Bathinda district and the Moga Mandi, requested the entire SAD rank and file to fan out in procurement centres to assist the farmers in getting their crop procured. He announced that the party would hold symbolic district level 'dharnas' across the state on April 24 in front of the offices of deputy commissioners to submit a memorandum demanding the problems being faced by farmers in 'mandis' be resolved immediately.

Asking the chief minister to step out of his farmhouse and address the problems being faced by farmers, Badal said the chief minister should also direct senior officers to visit all 'mandis' and remove shortcomings which were resulting in extremely slow procurement of wheat. 'Farmers have told me that they have been camping in 'mandis' for more than one week to await procurement of their produce. As much as 45 lakh metric tonnes of wheat is lying in the open in mandis and not being lifted due to lack of gunny bags,' Badal said in a statement.

'Food and Civil Supplies Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu has gone into hiding as he knows he cannot face the farmers after failing to issue timely tenders for gunny bags. Punjab was also pipped by Haryana in placing of orders for used gunny bags,' he claimed.

Badal said farmers and 'arhatiyas' (commission agents) conveyed to him that they were now being asked to arrange for gunny bags on their own. He said the government was claiming it had made a payment of Rs 6,000 crore to farmers when the actual payment was only Rs 3,400 crore. Meanwhile, in a bid to aid farmers facing hardships on account of introduction of Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) system for the first time during the current Rabi Marketing Season, the Punjab Mandi Board has set up 'Farmer Help Desks' in grain markets across the state for online registration on new portal for making payments directly into their bank accounts.

According to Punjab Mandi Board Chairman Lal Singh, the rationale behind the move is to ensure timely payment to farmers into their bank accounts expeditiously. Out of 12 lakh farmers, nearly six lakh have already uploaded the requisite documents on the portal. PTI VSD AAR AAR