The fiscal austerity measures by Congress government led by Amarinder Singh, to reduce the cost of procurement of food grain, has led to boycott by many truck unions who are opposing lower transportation rates. The procurement is set to witness an extended session due to the boycott and a higher wheat buying target set by the state government.
Wheat buying is set to pick by the next week in Punjab with state government targeting to procure 130 lakh tones. The bulk of this cereal will come within 20-22 days to mandis across Punjab during the month of April.
The state authorities have finalized the transport tendering process for 340 clusters out of total 413 across districts.
The Congress government has blamed Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP government for the additional liability of Rs 30584.11 crore in the form of loans to settle the gap in Cash Credit Limit and expenditure made by the state. “It has caused debt burden of Rs 3,100 crore per year on the state,” finance minister Manpreet Badal said.
The incumbent government has blamed Shiromani Akali Dal for allowing exorbitant transportation rates in the past.
Debt-ridden Punjab government led by Amarinder Singh has slashed the transportation charges to avoid the additional expense of Rs 150-170 crore that state government has been funding in the past for food grain procurement for the central public distribution system.
Some truck unions in districts like Patiala, Barnala, and Sangrur are still adamant while many have accepted the new rates,” a senior official of Punjab Food and Supplies.
The state government has also decided to urge aarthiyas to facilitate the transportation of food grains. “The truckers boycott will have little impact on major mandis including Khanna mandi,” Sukhvinder Cheema, past president, Khanna Grain Market, located near Ludhiana said.
In the previous year, Punjab government paid Rs 175 crore for transportation over and above Rs 350 crore funded by Food Corporation of India. “Punjab is the only state where the transportation charges supersede the allocated budget,” an official of FCI said.