Chandigarh, April 13 – The Punjab Cabinet led by Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Wednesday welcomed the decision of the Union Government to accept the request of the State Government to revisit the norms of shrivelled grains for the ongoing procurement of wheat. It also decided to appeal to the Union Government to issue the order for relaxations in the norms at the earliest.

Disclosing this, a spokesperson of the Chief Minister’s Office said that the Secretary, Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs briefed the Cabinet about the status of the ongoing procurement. It was informed that 14.9 Lakh MT of wheat had arrived in the Mandis out of which more than 12 Lakh MT had already been purchased. More than 2 lakh MT of wheat, out of 5 Lakh MT that arrived yesterday alone, had been purchased on the day of arrival itself, he revealed.

The spokesperson added that while welcoming the early constitution of Central teams to assess the damage of shrivel grains in the state, the Cabinet also appealed to the Central Government to allow relaxation in the norms of shrivelled grains without any value cut, since the farmer had already been penalised on account of lower yield. A formal request in this regard had already been made by the State Government, he added.

It may be noted that due to extreme heat conditions the wheat grain has become shrivelled in many places and the grain coming in these Mandis contains shrivelled grain beyond the permissible limit of 6%. Thereafter, the Department of Food and Public Distribution, Government of India, had yesterday constituted five teams to assess the extent of the problem in the state. The teams are on the way and shall shortly arrive in the State to get a first hand assessment of the extent of shrivelled grain arriving in the Mandis. This data will then help the Government of India in taking a final decision on grant of appropriate relaxation in the specifications.

The spokesperson added that the Cabinet laid absolute emphasis on farmer welfare and asked the Department to take all possible steps to ensure smooth procurement. It also asked the Department to resolve any genuine issues of the staff deputed by the procurement agencies for procurement of wheat.

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