CHANDIGARH: Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh has accused the NDA government at the Centre of acting at the behest of the Akalis to create a shortage of gunnysacks with the aim of obstructing wheat procurement in order to defame the Congress government in the state during the poll season.
The state is facing a shortage of 1.65 crore gunnysacks even as wheat procurement is at its peak amid influx of wheat into mandis across Punjab.
The Punjab Food and Supplies Department has already written to the Union government that it is falling short of 33,000 gunny bales—one bale comprises 500 gunnysacks. Each new bag costs `55, whereas an old bag costs between `20 and `30. The state government has already blamed the Jute Corporation of India for delay in supply of gunnysacks.
Amarinder also accused the Centre of diverting four lakh bales from Punjab to Haryana, and said that the neighbouring state was being supplied extra bags by the Centre to ensure smooth and streamlined procurement operations there ahead of voting on May 12.
For the first time since taking over, the Congress government in Punjab was having problems in procurement due to the Centre’s politically motivated actions in depriving the state of the much-needed supply of bags, Amarinder said. The BJP-led Central government was acting at the behest of its ally, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), he said.
To make matters worse, the excess production in Haryana was being pushed into Punjab through the open borders, he said, adding that he had instructed officials to stop such attempts. The Chief Minister said the BJP must put an immediate end to petty tactics to promote its electoral prospects.
The Punjab government had been repeatedly taking up the issue of shortage of gunnysacks with the Centre and the FCI, said Amarinder, adding that he had spoken to FCI Chairman DV Prasad on Saturday.
As of May 3, 105.4 lakh metric tons of wheat had arrived in the mandis, with more expected by May 6, he said, adding that a serious shortage of A-class bales was expected in several places in the state.