Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, September 26
Following the directions of Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan on Saturday reviewed the state’s preparedness for paddy procurement season, which will start from September 27.
Presiding over a high-level review meeting of Paddy Procurement Committee for Kharif Season – 2020, Vini Mahajan directed the concerned departments to ensure the social distancing to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
She also said that procurement be made in a staggered manner as farmers would enter the mandis with passes issued to them 72 hours in advance and only one trolley will be allowed on one pass.
Mandi yards have been marked with 30ft X 30ft blocks to maintain the social distance, she said.
The Punjab Chief Secretary said that a total 4,019 procurement centres had been set up, which include 152 main yards, 283 sub-yards, 1,436 purchase centres, 524 temporary yards and 1,624 mills.
She also directed the Punjab Mandi Board and Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department to explore possibilities to increase the number of centres to over 4,500 to ensure hassle-free, smooth and timely procurement of paddy crop.
Vini Mahajan stressed that alternative procurement centres should be identified to divert arrivals if any centre was sealed due to COVID-19.
Directing the procurement agencies to ensure the lifting of procured paddy within 48 hours of weighment, the Chief Secretary said that Deputy Commissioners would be overall in-charge of procurement operations and Mandi Board would start issuing passes from September 29, 2020.
Check-points will be set up and only one farmer or representative with valid pass will be allowed to enter mandis and a person showing dry cough/respiratory symptoms and fever must not be allowed at these check-points, said Mahajan.
She instructed the Mandi Board to make arrangements for 50,000 tarpaulins to save the grain in case of rain.
The Chief Secretary also said that Punjab Mandi Board solicited the services of 3,195 Guardians of Governance (GoGs) in this procurement season.
The GoGs would monitor and enforce safety and sanitisation protocols, with special focus on social distancing and maintain a hygienic environment in all the mandis.
Urging the farmers to bring the ripen and dry crop to mandis for smooth and hassle-free procurement, the Chief Secretary asked the Deputy Commissioners to ensure that combine harvesters were sanitised with sodium hypochlorite solution and no combine should be allowed to run after allowed time.
She also called upon farmers to download ‘COVA App’ to get real time information about COVID cases.
Additional Chief Secretary, Development, Anirudh Tewari informed the Chief Secretary that 30 line Mandi Board Control Room would be set up with one line for each district and it would be functional immediately for smooth procurement.
District level control room will be set up under Deputy Commissioners for coordination with Mandi Board and Procurement Agency, Tewari said.
He further informed that Market Committee would arrange 1,123 hand free water dispensers and soaps, 30,000 litres of sanitiser, 1.5 lakh masks and fumigate mandis with 13 lakh litres of sodium hypochlorite to contain the spread of the COVID, besides making available drinking water and clean toilets for farmers and laborers.
Arthias and procurement agencies have also been asked to make the arrangements for soap, sanitisers and mask for farmers and labour and staff. Social distancing would be practiced during harvesting, loading paddy, in mandi operations, he added.
To ensure zero tolerance towards the defaulters for residue burning, Vini Mahajan directed all the departments concerned to make elaborate arrangements to curb the menace of stubble burning.
She directed the Deputy Commissioners to ensure Cluster Officers/Village Level Nodal Officers to be appointed to stop this hazardous practice, besides appointing an SP rank officer as Nodal Officer in each district.
She also underlined the need to close coordination of DCs and SSPs to initiate strict and swift action against violators.
Stressing on active involvement of Department of Rural Development and Panchayat, Cooperation, School Education and Anganwari workers in the awareness campaign, Mahajan directed to initiate massive awareness campaign to sensitise farmers about the ill effects of residue burning.
The meeting among others was attended by DGP Dinkar Gupta, Principal Secretary (Finance) KAP Sinha and Principal Secretary (Transport) K Siva Prasad.