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Heavy arrivals, tardy lifting lead to wheat glut in mandis

Wheat arrivals in state mandis have begun to peak, but tardy lifting has led to a glut in grain markets.In Khanna, the largest grain market in Asia, only 25 per cent of the wheat that has arrived so far has been lifted.Harbans Singh Rosha, a commission agent in Khanna, said though 4.14 lakh MT (metric tonnes) of wheat had arrived till Tuesday and 4.04 lakh MT had been purchased, less than 20 per cent was lifted. The situation is similar in Rajpura, Sahnewal, Abohar, Fazilka, Moga, Barnala and Bathinda. Officials in the state Food and Supplies Department claimed that the lifting of wheat was going on smoothly and the reason for the glut in mandis was the high arrivals in the past two days.Commission agents and farmers cited the banning of truck unions and the switching over of the lifting process to other entities. The Punjab Goods Carriages (Regulation and Prevention of Cartelisation) Rules, 2017, banned existing truck unions last year. Under the new rules, these unions were meant to be regulated by registering them under the Companies Act and the Societies Registration Act, though not many came forward for the same. When tenders for wheat lifting were called earlier this year, the unregistered unions became ineligible.While many tenders have been allotted to labour and construction societies, in Mansa and Sangrur rice sheller owners were roped in to use their trucks to lift wheat. Incidents of friction have been reported between the “ousted” unions and the new entrants that have been roped in. The latter are taking time to lift wheat from mandis either due to limited experience or because they do not have trucks of specific tonnage to lift the foodgrains.Sukhwinder Singh Cheema, a commission agent in Khanna, said the unavailability of trucks was responsible for the slow lifting there. Mahinder Arora, a commission agent in Rajpura, too, said the lifting was rather slow because of change in the transportation policy.Anandita Mitra, Director, Food and Supplies, however, claimed the glut in mandis was because the arrivals had peaked in the past two days. “In each mandi, whatever is the capacity to lift the foodgrains is being maintained. For example, in Patiala we can lift maximum of 50,000 MT a day, which is being done. We are monitoring arrivals across the state to ensure that the foodgrains procured are lifted within 72 hours of purchase. Over 80 per cent of the foodgrains are being lifted within this timeframe. There could be initial problems in lifting because of the drastic change in the transportation policy, but it will stabilise soon,” she added.

Govt slow in releasing payments, say agentsIssues of delay in payments for the wheat purchased have also been reported. Across all mandis, commission agents said though farmers had been paid their dues by them, the government was slow in releasing payments. Anandita Mitra, Director, Food and Supplies, said the cash credit sanction came last week after which they had now started releasing payments.Payment due from state agencies