SAD asks Punjab govt to remove 'hurdles' in wheat purchase

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Chandigarh, Apr 17 (PTI) The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Saturday said the Congress-led government in Punjab must remove “hurdles” in wheat procurement or else it would hold state-wide protests.

Even though wheat procurement started 10 days late, it was further delayed due to “lack of preparedness” on the part of the state government, SAD leader Prem Singh Chandumajra said in a statement issued here.

He claimed that 'severe shortage' of gunny bags was set to lead to a glut in 'mandis' (agricultural markets) which are already facing labour problems.

Farmers are being forced to wait for long periods in 'mandis' to sell their wheat produce, Chandumajra alleged.

The “callous” attitude of the Congress government towards the woes of farmers indicated that it was hand in glove with the central government in harassing them, he alleged.

“Farmers are suffering due to the three hated agricultural laws. They also faced inclement weather and the COVID pandemic. Now they are victims of utter insensitivity of the government which has failed to ensure smooth procurement of wheat,' Chandumajra said.

'In case, the government does not take immediate measures to restore order in the 'mandis' we will stage protests keeping in view all COVID-19 norms,” he said.

Chandumajra asked Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to take action against Food and Civil Supplies Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu for “failing” to place orders for gunny bags in time.

He said Ashu was “blatantly lying” that orders for used gunny bags were placed late, and tenders for the bags opened only on Friday because the central government “delayed” giving permission for the same.

“If this is so, how come the Haryana government placed the same tender and even opened it 10 days back to corner the lion's share of used gunny bags available in the market,”Chandumajra asked.

The SAD leader also asserted that the government was making wrong claims of providing facilities to safeguard against farmers against coronavirus.

Contrary to claims foot operated taps have not been installed in 'mandis' till now and similarly there was no facility to provide sanitizers and masks, Chandumajra claimed.

He said forget providing these facilities, the government had not even provided power in most 'mandis' to operate fans for the convenience of farmers. PTI CHS VSD ANB ANB