With the wheat procurement season having officially started on April 1 alongside run-up to the parliamentary elections, the state election commission has exempted the employees of the food supply department, Mandi Board and procurement agencies from poll duty.
The step was taken after the state government and higher authorities had approached the election panel in this regard.
An official in the Mandi Board said the financial commissioner (development) had also written to deputy commissioners-cum-district electoral officers in the state to make alternative arrangements to fill in for employees of the food supply department, Mandi Board and procurement agencies who were busy in the electoral process.
The issue was raised during a meeting held recently in Chandigarh where officials expressed their inability to perform election duties since the procurement season has started, he added.
The official further said the state was expecting a bumper wheat crop this time which needed immediate procurement arrangements in the grain markets.
“If we get the exemption in a day or two, only then we will be able to put things on the right track this procurement season. The wheat harvesting is yet to start in the district and bad weather may further delay the arrival,” he said, they would have some time to work out on plants.
“Generally, wheat starts arriving in the mandis from April 12 onwards and the peak season remains even after Vaisakhi,” he said. He said the administration had not held a single meeting on procurement arrangements due to the election duties.
Chief agriculture officer Swatantra Kumar Aeri said wheat was sown over an area of 1.69 lakh hectares in the district this year and the expected arrival of wheat in markets was 8.57 lakh metric tonnes (MT).
Aeri said due to the prolonged winter season, there would be bumper crop in the district despite the fact that the production area is same.
About the crop damaged due to the recent rainfall, he said it did not have much impact. Deputy commissioner-cum-district electoral officer Varun Roojam confirmed the development saying he had received the letter in this regard and the staff concerned has been exempted from election duty.