As private contractors are allegedly forcing commission agents to pay `2 more than the fixed rate for a 50-kg bag of wheat to transport it from the grain markets to the godowns, little lifting has taken place in the district so far.
Farmers and labourers will be the receiving end if the situation does not improve.
In Kotkapura grain market and its 13 rural yards, about 49,517 metric tonnes (MT) wheat has been procured and only 9,500 MT has was from the grain market by Friday.
In the Faridkot grain market and its 16 rural yards, only 1,225 MT of wheat out of the total procured 35,567 MT was lifted by Thursday evening.
"In the rural yards, lifting has not taken palace so far," claimed a source.
As per rules, the lifting is supposed to be made within 48 hours after procurement.
As per the new policy of lifting introduced this year, the commission agents are responsible for the loading, while transporting vehicles, as tractor trolleys, are to be provided by the contractor.
"We have our labour sitting idle but contractors are providing transporting vehicles to only those who are ready to pay `150 to `250 per trolley load. A trolley carries about 135 to 150 bags only," said a commission agent, wishing not to be named.
"The contractors are influential and politically connected, the drivers of their vehicles openly demand `2 per bag of wheat to provide their vehicles. They are allegedly lifting the procured stock of those shops that agree to it, while about 80% stock has been lying unlifted so far. The labour has to do too much extra work to pile up the stock to make some space to unload the new produce, while the farmers have to suffer because the yards of grain markets are already full of wheat-filled bags and they have to face the problem of space," said Suba Singh Mann, president of the labour union, Kotkpura.
"The commission agents finally have to fall in line to gratify the contractors to pay extra amount because of the fear of theft, weather and shortage in the procured stock lying in the grain markets and contractors will allegedly be able to earn `1 to `1.5 crore extra from Faridkot district alone as 90 lakh bags of wheat arrived last year here," claimed a source.
"Shortage and other losses finally have to be paid by the farmer as he is the end-looser in the entire system," said Chamkaur Singh, a farmer.
Deputy commissioner Mohammad Tayyab said. "I have instructed the district food and supplies controller (DFSC) to ensure that the lifting takes place as per the norms. It will pick up by tomorrow," he added.
Jaspreet Singh Kahlon, DFSC, said that there was some problem of big trailers supposed to carry loads and the number of bags to be loaded per vehicle as per requirements at godowns, which has been solved now." The lifting will speed up from tomorrow," he said.
But Kahlon expressed ignorance about the extra charge as alleged by the contractors. I am just looking into it, he added.