On Friday, the ‘Arhatiyas’ in Punjab declared that they will go on strike on Saturday to protest against the State Government’s decision to implement a direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme. Vijay Kalra, President of Arhatiyas Association said, “All 27,000 Arhatiyas across Punjab will observe the strike. We will boycott the procurement and keep the mandis closed. Let the Government decide how to handle this glut”.
Will the DBT Scheme End the Role of Arhatiyas in the Procurement Process?
In the procurement process, an important role is played by the Arhatiyas. According to the Arhatiyas, if the DBT scheme is implemented then it would become difficult for them to recover their loans from the farmers if the payments are not made through them. The Arhatiyas opposed the DBT scheme. They also think that the DBT will end its role in the procurement process. Vijay Kalra said, “The state government has asked us to wait till some solution is found. But we are going to shut our operations from tomorrow”.
Did The Talks With the Govt Yield Any Result?
The Punjab Government was not able to protect the “rights of Arhatiyas” and so Ravinder Singh Cheema who leads the Arhatiyas Association of Punjab decided to tell the government about their importance. Kalra was in a hope that the Punjab Government will bring a solution to the issue. But the talks with the Government yielded no result. Cheema said, “If Arhatiyas are not needed in the system, why is wheat sold at Rs 1,100 per quintal in UP?
TPT Policy Advocacy & Recommendations
- After the farmers bring their produce to the APMC market yard, the Arhatiyas provide services to them. The Punjab Government must look into the fact that without the Arhatiyas the procurement process will not run well. So, they must bring effective policies so that the Arhatiyas get their proper rights.
- The Arhatiyas must strike peacefully. They must not take any step that would take the lives of anyone. The State Government must also talk with them so that the strike ends and the Arhatiyas also get back to their work again.