Chandigarh, Apr 24: Despite a delayed harvest due to inclement weather conditions, Punjab is on target as far as wheat procurement is concerened and till date 49.43 lakh tonnes of the food grain had been procured from the 'mandis' in the state by the government agencies, including Food Corporation of India (FCI).
In the corresponding period of last year 48.65 lakh tonnes had been procured by the government agencies despite good weather conditions for harvesting.
During the last one week wheat arrivals in the mandis of the state has picked up and on an average 6.23 lakh tonnes was being procured each day.
Punjab is expecting a bumper wheat harvest this year and have now fixed the production target at 145-150 lakh tonnes. The state has also revised the central food pool target with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal indicating that Punjab would give 90 lakh tonnes to the central pool, 10 lakh tonnes more than the commitment made to Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar.
Meanwhile Punjab Mandi Board Chairman Ajmer Singh Lakhowal who is on a whirlwind tour of the state to oversee the procurement of the foodgrain has warned that strict action would be taken against officials if there is any evasion of mandi fee (market fee). He gave this warning while unearthing one such racket at the Madhopur barrier with Jammu and Kashmir.
Mr Lakhowal himself seized a truck loaded with wheat which was to cross over to Jammu and Kashmir from Punjab at Madhopur. On checking the records he found that no market fee had been paid by the 'arhatiya' (commission agent) who had purchased the wheat in Tarn Taran and was 'illegally' sending it to Jammu where he expected to get a higher rate than the MSP of Rs 1000 per quintal.
Mr Lakhowal claimed that as per information collected by him at least 15 vehicles loaded with wheat had crossed to Jammu and Kashmir from Punjab. The matter has been brought to the knowledge of the Chief Minister who has directed that strict vigil be maintained at all 27 inter state barriers with Rajasthan, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir to check illegal transportation of wheat from Punjab.