Punjab prepared for wheat procurement from Sat, govt sets up vaccination camps

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Chandigarh, Apr 9 (PTI) To ensure seamless wheat procurement commencing from Saturday amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Punjab government has set up COVID-19 vaccination camps in all 154 market committees across the state.

The camps are for inoculating persons above the age of 45 years visiting grain markets during the current rabi marketing season.

Disclosing this here on Friday, Punjab Mandi Board Chairman Lal Singh said the mandi board is fully geared up to accomplish the task of wheat procurement amid the trying times of pandemic.

Urging all the stakeholders to adhere to COVID-19 safety norms, the chairman said the state government is fully committed to procuring every single grain of wheat from the mandis. It is also committed to ensuring safety of farmers, labourers, arthiyas and officials of procurement agencies.

The Punjab Mandi Board has also made arrangements to strictly observe health protocol by providing masks and sanitiser to its staff, Singh said.

Besides, the mandi board has also arranged another one lakh masks and 35,000 litres sanitisers for providing to the farmers during their arrival in purchase centres.

The chairman said that to avoid crowd and congestion in the mandis, the number of purchase centres has been increased from 1,872 to 4,000 with the target to procure 130 lakh tonnes (LT) of wheat.

He said farmers were being asked to bring their produce in mandis in a staggered manner as a preventive measure to keep COVID-19 under check.

Notably, during the previous rabi marketing season, the state government had procured 127.13 LT of wheat despite the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, and 17.51 lakh passes were issued to the farmers through arhatiyas.

Meanwhile, the Punjab government issued an advisory on safe farming operations, including procurement and marketing.

Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu said coronavirus survives on environmental surfaces for a varied period of time, it gets easily inactivated by chemical disinfectants.

He said farmers should prefer mechanised operations over the manual, wherever feasible.

He added that only the essential number of persons should accompany the operator while using the machine for harvesting.

All machines should be sanitised at the entry point and at regular intervals, he said.

Sidhu also said it is compulsory that all the persons engaged in the operations should mask up at all times and ensure handwashing with soap at reasonable intervals.

He added that the combine operator and his workers should always bear in mind that the appropriate social distancing is the key factor during the pandemic.

He said that the transporter and his workers shall be advised not to indulge in any handshakes or hugs to greet each other. PTI VSD SUN HRS hrs