Chandigarh, Mar 24 (PTI) The Punjab cabinet today approved a policy for “smooth and hassle-free” procurement of 130 lakh MT of wheat during 2018-19 season besides ensuring timely payment of the minimum support price to farmers.

This decision was taken at a cabinet meeting chaired by Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh this evening.

A spokesperson of the Chief Minister’s Office said elaborate arrangements had been made to procure 130 lakh metric tonnes of wheat by six procurement agencies including, FCI, as per allocated share/target during the season set to commence on April 1, 2018.

The Centre has fixed the wheat MSP at Rs 1,735 per quintal. The two-months season will end on May 31, 2018.

The policy emphasized the need to ensure that wheat conforming to specifications prescribed by the Government of India was procured at the MSP declared by GoI, while making it clear that procurement would not be allowed below the MSP under any circumstances.

The policy has made it mandatory for lifting of the wheat, from mandis to storage points by the agencies within 72 hours of purchase.

The Deputy Commissioners would be required to constitute Grievances Redressal Committees, comprising representatives of the concerned agency, Mandi Board, Arhtiyas and farmers in each mandi, to address to the problems of the farmers so as to ensure conduct of smooth procurement.

In case a complaint regarding wheat procurement is received from farmers, the same would be resolved by the committee on the spot.

Wheat would be procured in all the mandis/purchase centres even on Sunday and gazetted holidays so as to prevent a glut in mandis.

In the purchase centers which are shared amongst the procurement agencies, the distribution of the yards shall be done by the District Food and Supplies Controller concerned.

As many as 1835 mandis have been notified for the smooth procurement of wheat, the spokesperson said.

As per the policy, all procurement agencies would be responsible for deputing adequate staff in the allotted mandis well in advance to ensure smooth and hassle free procurement to facilitate farmers.

The policy also stipulates that bidding would be held in all the allotted purchase centres daily from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM, and no bidding would take place at night under any circumstances.

Referring to filling of bags with wheat, the spokesperson said each agency would make the requisite arrangements of 50 kg capacity of new jute bags for filling of wheat and every district would be supplied bardana (Gunny bags) in time as per its requirement.

Arrangement of 30 Kg bags for procurement of stocks to be distributed under National Food Security Act (NFSA) is to be done by Pungrain, as per the On the issue of payment, the policy mandates that the payment against purchase of wheat be made through the online system, by using the rupay card, to arthiyas or farmers willing to receive direct payment from the agencies.

The arrangement of requisite funds for payment for purchase of wheat would be made through the sanction of Cash Credit Limit from Reserve Bank of India, and difference between actual expenditure and the expenditure incurred as per the provisional cost sheet issued by the Government of India would be recouped by the State Government through budgetary provisioning.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.