Farmers and arhatiyas blocked traffic on the Kapurthala-Sultanpur Lodhi road on Tuesday for about an hour to protest against slow procurement and lifting of wheat by government procurement agencies at the local grain market.
The protesters blocked the road for nearly an hour from around 3pm onwards by parking tractor-trolleys and trucks, and lifted it only after assurance by district food and supplies controller Rajnish Kaur who reached the spot to resolve the deadlock.
District arhatiys association leader Om Parkash Behl claimed that procurement agencies had failed to fulfill government promises. "Punjab State Warehousing Corporation is especially not making any purchase from the local market citing non-availability of gunny bags. Other agencies too are very slow and choosy for procurement," he alleged and added that "thousands of bags of wheat are lying under the open sky in the local grain market as these agencies are not lifting the produce within specified time."
"We are constantly in touch with local authorities and requesting them to instruct warehouse corporation authorities to purchase paddy as per their allotted quota but to no avail," said Ranjit Singh, a commission agent.
"There is no space left for farmers to unload their produce as old stock of wheat is lying in the market. Procurement agencies are avoiding purchase, on one pretext or the other," rued Ajay Babla, another arhatiya.
Meanwhile, district food and supplies controller Rajnish Kaur, who held a meeting with commission agents, said, "We have asked other agencies to start procurement after warehousing authorities failed to do the same due to non-availability of gunny bags. We are also arranging adequate gunny bags in a day or two so that farmers and arhatiyas do not suffer," she said.
Sources revealed that Food Corporation of India had done minimum procurement since wheat lying in the market did not meet specified moisture norms due to inclement weather prevailing in Punjab.
"We have given an ultimatum to the district authorities to arrange adequate gunny bags at the local grain market by 10am on Wednesday so that all procurement agencies start purchasing at the same time. If they failed to do so, we will keep the grain market shut," said Babla.