Chandigarh, Sep 26 (PTI) Punjab Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan on Saturday reviewed the state's preparedness for paddy procurement season, slated to begin from September 27.
The Centre on Saturday announced commencement of paddy procurement at minimum support price (MSP) with immediate effect in Punjab and Haryana in the wake of early arrival of kharif crop in these states.
Normally, the paddy procurement season starts from October 1 in Punjab.
Presiding over a meeting here, Mahajan directed the concerned departments to ensure social distancing to avoid the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, an official statement said.
She also said procurement should be made in a staggered manner as farmers would enter the mandis with passes issued to them and only one trolley will be allowed per pass, it added.
Mahajan said a total of 4,019 procurement centres have been set up, which include 152 main yards, 283 sub-yards, 1,436 purchase centres, 524 temporary yards and 1,624 mills.
She also directed the Punjab Mandi Board and Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department to explore the possibility of increasing the number of centres to over 4,500 to ensure hassle-free, smooth and timely procurement of paddy crop.
She stressed that alternative procurement centres should be identified to divert arrivals if any centre is sealed due to coronavirus.
Directing the procurement agencies to ensure lifting of procured paddy within 48 hours of measuring its weight, the chief secretary said Deputy Commissioners will be overall in-charge of procurement operations.
Check points would be set up and only one farmer or representative with valid pass will be allowed to enter mandis, and a person showing symptoms like dry cough or fever must not be allowed.
She instructed the Mandi Board to make arrangements for 50,000 tarpaulins to save the grain in case of rains.
Urging farmers to bring dry crop to mandis for smooth and hassle-free procurement, the chief secretary asked the Deputy Commissioners to ensure that combine harvesters are sanitized with sodium hypochlorite solution.
All concerned authorities involved in the procurement process have been directed to strictly follow the health protocols and ensure availability of soap for washing hands, availability of water and sanitisers at the procurement centres. PTI CHS VSD RVK