Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh (File image)
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking the deferment of direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme for farmers by at least one year, said an official release issued by the state government on March 24.
The Food Corporation of India (FCI) had, on March 5, wrote to the Punjab government seeking land details of farmers for direct payment of minimum support price (MSP) into their bank accounts for procurement to be done in the upcoming Rabi season.
Singh, in his letter to Modi, said a robust relationship exists between the farmers and arhityas or commission agents - who are "licensees under the Agriculture Produce Market Committee Act 1961" and pass on the payment under minimum support price (MSP) regime to the cultivators.
If the DBT scheme of the Centre is implemented, the role of arhityas would be eliminated.
The Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution is firm on the elimination of role of middlemen to plunge gaps in MSP payment. It had directed the state government to complete the online submission of details of land owners/cultivators for e-payments to the farmers.
Singh, marking his objection to the DBT scheme, said the farmers have never complained of non-receipt of payment of MSP, and the state government is ensuring online payment to farmers, albeit through these arhtiyas.
"Further, said the chief minister, the land ownership and tenancy issues may give rise to various avoidable legal complications, especially during the ongoing farmers’ agitation," the statement issued by the Punjab government said.
The implementation of the DBT scheme amid the ongoing farmers' unrest "may also cause avoidable unrest and anguish among the farmers", Singh said, as he cautioned the central government against making the changes to the payment mechanism.
The Punjab CM further noted that bringing the software in line with the proposed directions "shall take considerable time", the statement added.
At a media event on March 24, Singh also pointed out that around 50 percent farmers give their land on contract in Punjab. "So how will those who till the land get their money under DBT?" he asked.