Even though the procurement of paddy started 12 days ago, yet not even a single penny has been paid to the farmers against the purchase of their crop by different procurement agencies.
Non-payment of paddy price to farmers has not only exposed the unpreparedness and the poor fiscal condition of the state government, but also the hollow promise of the government to make payment to farmers within 48 hours of the purchase of the produce.
The farmers are feeling the heat as they have been making frequent rounds of grain markets unsuccessfully to collect their payments from their respective commission agents (arhtiyas), who are awaiting clearance of the payments by the government.
Under the new system of payments, launched three years ago, the commission agents have been issued smart cards by banks.
The agents swipe their cards on the machines installed at grain markets and then the government credited the money in the accounts of commission agents, who then make payment to farmers.
As per available information, nearly 1 lakh metric tonnes paddy has been procured so far in the purchasing centers in the district.
It is not for the first time that such a situation has arisen as, even during the past two seasons, commission agents and farmers had faced a similar problem when many swapping machines either reportedly developed snags or payments were delayed on the part of state authorities.
Balbir Singh, a farmer, said he sold his crop seven days ago in Samana grain market, but he had still awaiting the payment.
“The festival season is round the corner and we have no idea when we will get our payments as first the government is delaying payments to commission agents and then agents will further make us wait,” he said.
Meanwhile, Satpal Singh, a commission agent, said the procurement agencies had not made any payment to the agents procuring paddy, though they had already swiped their cards and waiting for payments.
District food and supplies controller Ajayvir Singh Sarao said the problem of non-payment is prevailing not only in Patiala district but in all districts of the state.
“We have verified and swiped the cards of commission agents and sent the record to the state authorities, but the problem of delay has occurred due to the centralised system of making payments. We have informed and written to the state government to release payments at the earliest,” Sarao said.
Once commission agents will get their payments, they will further make payments to farmers through cheques, he said.
“We are hopeful that agents will start receiving payments from Monday onwards,” Sarao added.