The exercise to procure paddy was conducted between October 3 and November 30. During this period, a total of 188.20 LMT of paddy had arrived in the Punjab mandis out of which 187.23 LMT of paddy has been procured by government agencies including Food Corporation of India (FCI) at the minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 1,960 per quintal and only 97, 000 MT of paddy has been procured by private traders.
He added that Rs 36257.30 crore has already been transferred into bank accounts of over 8,20,174 beneficiary farmers of the state. Likewise, out of the total arrived paddy, 186.97 LMT of crop stands procured, which is 99.88%.
The food minister further said that the state government had set up 3,109 purchase centres including 1,872 notified mandis and 1,237 as temporary yards during this season amid the second wave of Covid-19 epidemic to avoid the virus spread and facilitate the farmers.
Ashu said the Centre had decided to postpone the paddy procurement from Punjab till October 11, which would have caused huge losses to farmers, however, following Punjab CM Channi’s intervention, the Centre government rolled back their previous decision and started the procurement from October 3.
He added that the state government had formed over 150 flying squads comprising 1,500 employees to check bogus billing and unauthorised import of paddy from other states.
Apart from this, check posts were set up at 93 places across the borders of Punjab and teams checked 49,135 vehicles, leading to 11 FIRs by Punjab Police against 30 accused attempting to import paddy illegally from other states.
He said that a total of 4,695.20 quintal of paddy was seized from 21 vehicles during the drive.
Besides, the officers of the vigilance department also conducted surprise checking at various sellers and mandis in the state.
They also registered 7 FIRs against the offenders. Inquiry into various cases of bogus billing and unauthorised paddy procurement in Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Mansa districts has been handed over to Vigilance Department to expose the nexus.
Ashu said that in a view to tackling the shortage of gunny bags this season, the Punjab government especially arranged gunny bags from West Bengal.