Lakhs of bags of wheat, procured by the government agencies, are lying on the premises of the grain market in Kotkapura allegedly due to the faulty contractual system of lifting and indifferent attitude of the authorities concerned.
According to commission agents, there has been little lifting from the grain market since the procurement was started about two weeks earlier by the government procurement agencies.
“As there is little lifting in the market, it is almost full of filled wheat bags, we have to face a lot of trouble as it has left little space in the market to unload new arrival if there is any at the end of the season. Besides, we have to guard it from getting stolen as we have to meet the shortage in quantity if found later,” said a commission agent wishing not be named.
“Though the procured stock is supposed to be lifted within 72 hours of the procurement, yet even after about nearly two weeks, most of the wheat procured by the government agencies is lying in the market. The contractual system of lifting is very faulty and the lifting labour is demanding Rs 200 per trolley load,” the sources said.
The commission agents alleged if one is ready to pay for extra money, the produce from his shop is lifted on priority, while lifting should be made on the basis of the date of procurement."
We have no responsibility after 72 hours, but now we are made to guard, compensate shortage and save it from getting damaged for many days," a commission agent alleged.
Not only the commission agents, but the labour also find themselves at the receiving end due to non-lifting of the bags.
“Finally, it is the labour which has to pay for the delayed lifting. Our men have to guard the stacks and wheat-filled gunny bags lying in the market from getting stolen. The labour also has to stack the wheat bags to vacate some place to unload new produce and, finally, the Choudhris (who head the unit of labour hired by a commission agent) have to compensate for the shortage of weight if found any while loading the produce,” claimed Suba Mann, president of the Galla Majdoor Union of Kotkapura.
“Initially, the delay in lifting could be attributed to the moisture content but, later, there could not be any excuse. It is the responsibility of the contractor or the authorities concerned to lift the produce,” said Suba Mann.
“When bidding for a contract, the contractors allegedly show a large number of tractor trolleys to be pressed into service when required, but actually they do not have that number of trolleys they claim to have . The same vehicles are used for more than one contract and other purposes, too, leading to a the problem,” claimed a source.
"The lifting is somewhat slow but it is going on. I am instructing all the concerned to speed it up," said Jaspreet Singh Kahlon, district food and supplies controller, Faridkot.
“If there is some problem in lifting the wheat bags, I will look into the matter,’ said deputy commissioner of Faridkot Mohammad Tayyab.