Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday said the state had to accept the Centre’s Direct Bank Transfer (DBT) system for minimum support price (MSP) payments to farmers for crop procurement after the Centre “threatened” not to procure from Punjab if it does not implement the DBT.
Kicking off wheat procurement in Punjab, the CM said the Centre’s was “adamant” and refused” to accept the state’s request for deferment of the DBT system,. “We fought hard with the Centre on the issue, but they (Centre) were adamant, and even went to the extent of threatening not to procure from Punjab if we do not implement the DBT,.” he said.
Assuring the Arhtiyas (grain commission agents) of their involvement in the process of release of payments to the farmers, albeit in a modified manner, while farmers get their payments in their bank accounts within 48 hours, as mandated by the state government, Amarinder said . “The Arhtiyas shall always be associated with procurement”. “Till I am there, you will be part of the system, and your role will always remain,” he asserted, adding that he will ensure that the Arhtiya Commission and other charges permitted under the APMC Act will continue.
The CM said he failed to understand why the central government was treating them and the farmers in such a shoddy manner. He recalled that the system of Arhtiyas prevailed even when he was a kid, and visited mandis with his grandfather, and said it was inexplicable why the Centre government wanted to ruin it. The Arhtiyas are not middlemen but service providers, the CM said, adding that the private sector can function along with the existing system and there was no need to change it.
Pointing to the 72 per cent increase in farmers’ earning, he attributed it to the combined efforts of the farmers and the Arhtiyas. “Your contribution to the Green Revolution and filling of India’s granaries is unforgettable,” he told them, adding that he does not agree with anything that the Centre is doing on Agriculture. He assured that all their concerns would be addressed, and all the commitments made to them will be fulfilled.
Meanwhile, Arhtiyas called off their proposed strike after Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh ordered various steps to ensure their continued involvement in the process and immediate release of their pending payments of Rs 131 Crore without waiting for dues to come from Food Corporation of India.