After Gujarat government announced a bonus of Rs110 per 20 kg of cotton, its farmers in the state stare at a “rigorous procedure” to avail of the benefit.
Only those selling their produce to the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) are eligible for bonus. Steps taken by the CCI, a central government undertaking under the Union Ministry of Textiles, in the wake of scams in Telangana and Andra Pradesh have made the procedure to avail of bonus cumbersome.
The CBI is investigating multiple cases in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana where middlemen and private moneylenders sold cotton to the CCI at Minimum Support Price (MSP), posing as farmers. The probe agency suspects that a few CCI officers connived with the middlemen and moneylenders, and refused to buy cotton from farmers saying it was of poor quality.
Indebted farmers were forced to sell cotton to middlemen at low price. And, the middlemen subsequently sold the same cotton to the CCI as ghost farmers and received payment through cheques. The agency suspects that the scams run into hundreds of crores of rupees.
As a fallolut, the CCI has made it mandatory to make payment to farmers only electronically through real-time gross settlement (RTGS) system. Moreover, at a meeting held on Tuesday, senior officials from Textiles Ministry, the CCI and senior ministers and officers of the Gujarat government agreed upon a rigorous procedure for disbursing the bonus.
“It was agreed at the meeting that a farmer seeking to avail the bonus will have to sell cotton at the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) covering his/her area. For example, a farmer of Botad district will not be allowed to sell cotton at Manavadar AMPC in Junagadh district. He will have to prove that he is a farmer by producing forms 7-12 and 8-A (showing land ownership and use) of his land. He will also be required to have a bank account and give a photocopy of his passbook to purchasing officer and the payment will be made only through RTGS,” a CCI officer who attended the meeting told The Indian Express.
The officer said that the CCI had shifted to e-payment only to prevent the possibility of fraud by middlemen. State Bank of India would organise camps at APMCs and help farmers open bank accounts at zero balance.
“There will be a limit of selling a maximum of 40 quintal of cotton in one tranche. The CCI will make payment to farmer through RTGS and will share his bank detail and cotton sale to the state government,” added the officer.
Officials said that farmers will get payment for their cotton in four to five days after the APMC sale.