Anxious Haryana farmers awaiting wheat payment
Two days after Haryana took baby steps to start wheat procurement on April 20, chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar had reiterated his vow to “purchase every single wheat grain”, promising to deposit money in the bank accounts of farmers “without any delay.”
But in the past 16 days, the government has transferred “not more than 20% payment” of the over 50 lakh metric tonne (MT) wheat procured till Tuesday, top government sources, refusing to be identified, said.
At the core of this inordinate delay are certain “technical problems” the banks have been facing while transferring money into the accounts of commission agents.
“The agreements with the banks for transferring the MSP were finalised late. This led to delay in uploading commission agents’ details which were required for electronic transfer of the money,” a senior official said.
“These technical problems will be resolved within two days. And funds are sufficient,” the official added.
The government is procuring wheat at Rs 1,925 per quintal minimum support price (MSP).
Until Tuesday, the government had procured over 50 lakh MT wheat from over 6 lakh farmers. On Tuesday alone, around 24,000 farmers brought about 27 lakh quintal wheat across 1,045 mandis in the state.
Another key reason behind the delay, being cited by the government, is the changes made in the old and obscure system of payment that commission agents have been resisting. Now, commission agents will have to transfer the money into the bank accounts of farmers with details of loan given to the farmer(s). It is this transparency that the government wants to introduce, while the commission agents are resisting it.
“All the payment will be made via e-kharid portal and in the beginning, the ahrityas did not support this initiative. Finally, last week they agreed...” a senior government official.
WORRIED AHRTIYAS AND FARMERS
Sanjay Kumar, a commission agent from Bhiwani’s Siwani is anxious even after having procured 17,000 quintal wheat from farmers since April 20. “The government has not made any payment to us so far,” he claimed.
According to Surender Kumar, a farmer of Yamunanagar district, he urgently needed Rs 50,000 to release payments regarding wheat harvesting. “When I approached my ahrtiya, he gave me only Rs 15000 even as I have sold wheat of around Rs 2.50 lakh to him. The government is yet to release the wheat MSP,” Kumar said.
Not only farmers, but labourers and the ahrityas are a worried lot too. Ahrityas are unable to make payments of the farmers and the farmers don’t have money to pay wages of the labourers engaged for the harvesting.
“I have sold wheat worth nearly Rs 50 lakh to government agencies but so far I have not got a single penny,” a commission agent of Kurukshetra alleged, pleading anonymity.
PK Das, additional chief secretary (ACS, food, civil supplies and consumer affairs) said all issues have been sorted out.
“We have already issued instructions to clear payments of the wheat procured till April 25,” Das said.
“And in the next two days, we will also clear the payments of wheat procured till April 30.”