The second maize dryer centre of Punjab inaugurated by deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal on February 15 in Nawanshahr at a cost of Rs 10.16 crore has failed to start its operations fully so far, thus forcing farmers to dry their crop in the open. Interestingly, the gates of the dryer plant were opened only on Saturday when the maize season is already past halfway.
Farmers’ woes, however, do not stop here only as only two of the four containers for drying the grain were opened by Mandi Board officials.
Even as officials claim that maize has started reaching now it is far from true since maize had already started arriving in markets in the first week of this month.
Sources in the Mandi Board said the state government had transferred the responsibility of maintaining the maize dryer to the agriculture co-operative marketing society which comes under registrar of cooperative societies. This was also a factor responsible for the delay in starting the plant.
Officials said the state government was not keen to run this plant itself and hence it decided to hand it over to the agriculture co-operative marketing society to take care of its operation.
Officials said the farmers would have to pay Rs 100-110 per quintal as fee for drying the grain.
The fee would be lowered once the plant starts functioning completely, they added.
Farmers at the Nawanshahr new grain market blamed the cloudy weather in the region as their crop was not getting proper sunshine and they were not able to get good prices due to high moisture content in maize.
They also criticised the state government for not opening the plant in time since they had bringing their produce two-three weeks ago. The Nawanshahr maize dryer plant has remained in news since it was installed at the new grain market.
First, the Mandi Board had selected 2.5 acres of land inside the grain market and the construction of the plant was also started but commission agents had opposed the move citing shortage of space there as they were offered 3.5-kanal land to them for procurement.
Following commission agents’ opposition the plant was shifted to another location under the control of the colonisation department.
The Mandi Board had to get the change of land use (CLU) of land which cost it around Rs 1 crore. When contacted, Nawanshahr Mandi Board officer Beant Singh said he was on leave.
Nawanshahr grain market secretary Surinder Pal said maize had started arriving in the grain market a few days back.
Only two of containers are operational while others will also start a few days, he further said.