Crop procurement: SAD seeks dismissal of Punjab minister

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Chandigarh, Apr 20 (PTI) The Shiromani Akali Dal on Tuesday accused the Punjab government of botching the wheat procurement process and sought the dismissal of Punjab Food and Civil Supplies Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu.

In a statement here, Akali leader Sikandar Singh Maluka also took on Chief Minister Amarinder Singh for “failing” to take stock of the procurement process, resulting in “total chaos” in the mandis besides leading to “untold misery” to farmers of the State.

“It seems the chief minister, like the central government, is least concerned about the welfare of farmers and has left them to their fate,” alleged Maluka. Maluka said never before in the history of the state had the government been caught so “off guard” as present.

“It is clear that no attempt was made to prepare for the procurement season which is a regular feature. The government did not issue tenders in time for the purchase of gunny bags. It even faulted in purchasing used gunny bags with the Haryana government purchasing a majority of such bags available in the market by issuing a tender 10 days before the Punjab government,” he said.

Alleging that Ashu had done nothing and demanding his dismissal, Maluka said the minister “lied” that the central government did not give permission to the state to open tenders for gunny bags when the Haryana government had already done so.

Another Akali leader Bikram Singh Majithia also criticised the state government for “failing” to get gunny bags even after delaying the procurement season from to April 10.

In Amritsar, Majithia alleged there was “zero lifting” of crop in the mandis, which would result in a wheat glut and cause further misery to farmers.

Majithia said the government was directly responsible for this state of affairs as the “delay” in procurement had resulted in high moisture content in wheat as well as damage due to rains and high winds.

Meanwhile, Ashu said due to coronavirus and elections in West Bengal, many of the jute mills are shut, leading to a shortage of jute bags across the country. He said they had even taken up this issue with Jute Commissioner of India but he “failed” to help the state.

He said there was some “shortage” of jute bags initially but now the matter has been resolved.

Ashu urged leaders across political parties not to politicise this issue and appealed to them to either contact him or district administration in case there is any problem to farmers in mandis and assured that all problems would be resolved on a priority basis.

The minister said under the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme, Rs 2,600 crore has been paid to farmers till now.

He assured the farmers that every single grain produced by them will be procured. PTI CHS JMS VSD RDK RDK