As wheat procurement process is likely to start from the first week of April, Punjab government has made a few amendments in its newly-framed policy in wake of a boycott by the truck unions of the state, protesting less prices they are being offered this time as compared to last year.
As per the amendment, rice sheller and commission agents (Ahrtiya) associations of respective districts can also participate in the tender process for transporting grains from mandis to godowns, in case the tenders are not allotted in three consecutive times.
It needs to be mentioned that out of 134 clusters of mandis in Malwa and Doaba, tenders for not more than 14-15 have been allotted to truckers. The rest did not participate in the tender process. This year a capping of 120 per cent has been kept on basic rates, which was not there last year, due to which truckers feel that they will be under heavy losses.
However, in order to let the procurement work start in mandis from coming April, Deputy Commissioners (DCs) of respective districts have approached the rice shellers and ahrtiyas to participate in the tender process.
Ghanshyam Thori, DC, Sangrur, confirmed that as the truck unions have gone on strike and not participated in the tender process, they have asked people from outside to take part. “We have received positive response from rice shellers as well as ahrtiyas. They have over 1,000 large trucks, which can keep the work going. At the same time, we are hopeful that truckers will also fall in line soon,” said the Thori.
The government has given another relaxation of giving a CA’s certificate, showing working capital of any firm, for participating in the tender process. Earlier, the transporters needed to show a bank’s working capital certificate, which most of them had denied.
The transporters have also been asked to give a manual list of truck numbers to the district administration office instead of uploading them on an e-vahan software. The above relaxations have been done to attract the truckers as they were not ready to give their last year’s working capital certificate and upload the exact number of truck numbers on the vahan software.
Happy Sandhu, president of Punjab’s truck union, said only a few have applied in the tender process in Malwa and Doaba. “We have not got any call from state government for talks and we are being threatened to face police cases if we stop others. However, time will tell how we are going to respond to this threat,” he said.
Sandhu added that the DCs have planned to enroll even the trolley owners for lifting, which they will not let happen.