CHANDIGARH: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday opposed the Centre's scheme to make a direct online payment of the MSP to farmers' bank accounts, bypassing arhtiyas, for the crops to be procured by the government from the next Rabi season.
Opposing the Centre's Direct Bank Transfer scheme for farmers, Chief Minister Singh wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to ask the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution to defer the implementation of the scheme for at least a year.
Singh said he has written a letter to the Prime Minister seeking early resolution of the matter in view of the upcoming Rabi season.
He said he has also sought time from Prime Minister Modi for a meeting on the issue, the Punjab government said in an official statement.
"The arhtiyas (commission agents) and farmers have long-standing relations," said the Punjab CM, questioning the need to change the system which, he claimed, was "working very well".
"Around 50 per cent farmers give their land on contract, so how will those who till the land get their money under DBT?" the government's official statement also asked, quoting the chief minister.
In his letter, Amarinder Singh drew PM's attention to the Union ministry's directions, asking the Government of Punjab to ensure direct payment to farmers along with online submission of the details of landowners and cultivators.
Opposing the Central scheme which bypasses 'arhtiyas' in the payment of the minimum support price to farmers for their produce, Chief Minister Singh argued that 'arhtiyas' are licensees under the Agriculture Produce Market Committee Act.
For the past many decades, the state procurement agencies and FCI have been procuring foodgrains for the Central Pool, he said.
Claiming "an age-old relation between farmers and arhtiyas in Punjab," the chief minister said the farmers have never complained of non-receipt of MSP payment.
The state government is ensuring online payment to farmers, albeit through these 'arhtiyas', he said.
The chief minister said the land ownership and tenancy issues may give rise to various avoidable legal complications, especially during the ongoing farmers' agitation.
This, he said, "may also cause avoidable unrest and anguish among the farmers".
He further noted that bringing the software in line with the proposed directions shall take considerable time.
The Punjab chief minister has made the intervention in the wake of Punjab's 'arhtiyas' association threatening to stop the procurement of wheat from next month as a mark of protest against the Centre's scheme of direct transfer of MSP to farmers' account.
The association had claimed that the Centre was taking the step to target them for supporting the farmers' protest.
The Centre had earlier directly issued a letter to get the accounts of farmers for the direct payment and now it is being done through FCI.