The Punjab government on Tuesday said it had made all arrangements for procurement of wheat which would commence on April 15, even as Chief Minister Amarinder Singh asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to announce financial incentive to farmers for bringing their produce to the ‘Mandis’ after April 30, to check overcrowding at the markets.
Food and Civil Supplies Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu said around 135 lakh tonnes were expected to arrive in the markets.
The Minister said in view of the situation unfolding due to the COVID-19, a token system had been introduced in the ‘mandis’ to enable the farmers to systematically bring the produce. “..social distancing norms would be enforced. Box signs of 30 ft x 30 ft have been marked at 2 metres distance. The wheat would be unloaded only in this area. The bidding time has been fixed between 10 am to 6 pm.”
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh wrote to the Prime Minter demanding that the Centre should immediately announce a bonus of ₹100 per quintal over and above the MSP to the farmers for bringing wheat for marketing after May 1 and ₹200 per quintal after May 31, to compensate them for the additional cost for handling the produce for staggering the marketing and the reduction in yield.
At an all-party meeting to discuss the pandemic, the Chief Minister said the lockdown had so far helped curb the spread and the State’s count of cases was among the lowest in the country. Pointing out that medical experts were suggesting that five weeks of lockdown could really improve the situation, he promised all-out efforts to succeed in the battle against the pandemic.
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He said acceding to his government’s request, the Centre had already allowed commencement of operations in industries that could accommodate migrant labourers, and four had already started operating in Bathinda, with Ludhiana also gearing up to begin working, he said. The task force set up to formulate the exit strategy for the State would make its recommendations within 10 days on the way forward, he pointed out.