The Cooperation Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa today listed the remarkable achievements of the department apart from outlining the roadmap comprising the initiatives to be undertaken by the department in future. In a press conference here today at the Punjab Bhawan, S. Randhawa said that the Cooperation Department ensured the supply of high quality items of daily use to the people of the State during COVID-19 besides strengthening the cooperative sector institutions.Spelling out the targets envisaged for the future, S. Randhawa said that these include 2 new Sugar Mills at Batala and Gurdaspur Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) for the same have already been prepared. Providing Complex Fertilizer to farmers through Markfed and the tender for which has already been floated. He said that its a matter of pride that consequent to the Markfed manufactured Sohna brand Honey coming up triumphs on all the quality parameters of Centre of Science and Environment (CSE), the demand for Sohna Honey has witnessed ten fold increase.
The Minister further said that the process pertaining to the merger of the District Central Coopertaive Banks (DCCBs) with the Punjab State Cooperative Banks (PSCBs) is in the final stages and this novel initiative would result in the strengthening of the Cooperative Sector Banks.He further pointed that a demand survey is underway for floating a housing scheme for providing flats in Mohali to the employees of Cooperative Department/Cooperative Institutions and Journalists in the State through Housefed will also be undertaken. Another flagship project of Milkfed in the form of Verka Mega Dairy at Bassi Pathana having 2 lac litters per day (LLPD) is coming up at fast pace and is expected to be completed by June 30, 2021, revealed S. Randhawa adding that owing to the high standard being followed while manufacturing the products, the Milkfed sales have been up by 32% which is expected to witness further upswing next year. He also said that the Milkfed also rendered exceptional services to the people during lockdown period.
Recounting the achievements of previous year, S. Randhawa said that the department notified Punjab Self Supporting Rules 2019 of Cooperation Department under the Punjab Self Supporting Societies Act 2005. Besides, an insurance cover of Rs. 25 lakh each has been provided to the employees of front line cooperative institutions in the State of Punjab. The Deposit Policy of PACS was drafted and issued on August 2, 2020 for revival of loss making PACS and making them profitable, said S. Randhawa adding that the employees of Apex Cooperative Institutions have contributed their one day's salary amounting to Rs. 2,96,57,835 in the Punjab Chief Minister’s Covid Relief Fund as part of their commitment towards the society.Coming to the institutions of the cooperative sector, S. Randhawa said that the new building for automatic milk processing & packaging of fresh milk was inaugurated at Verka Amritsar Dairy resulting in capacity increase from 1.5 Lacs litre per day (LLPD) to 2.5 LLPD, expendable up to 5.0 LLPD. The Milkfed also launched specialized cattle feeds & supplements like pregnancy feed, calf starter, calf growth meal, Panjiri feed, summer feed which has evoked good response among the dairy farming community. The Milkfed also recently launched Dairy Whitener in bulk packaging, Natural Ice creams in four flavours, Amour Ice cream in three flavours, Choco Delight Ice cream, Cookie Delight Ice cream, Haldi milk. A Conference hall was also built for training of farmers at CFP, Khanna, added the Minister.Listing the novel initiatives undertaken with regard to Sugarfed, the minister said that the capacity of Bhogpur Cooperative Sugar Mills witnessed expansion from 1000 TCD to 3000 TCD with 15 MW Co-generation plant by shifting of Plant & Machinery of closed sugar mill, Faridkot and addition of new Boiler, Power Turbine and other equipments having latest technology at an estimated project cost of Rs. 109.07 crores. The Project work saw completion in November, 2020.
Pointing out further, S. Randhawa said that the foundation stone of a dedicated Sugarcane Research Institute at Kalanaur, Gurdaspur was laid by the Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on November 20, 2020 in order to give fillip to the research & development activities and providing training to farmers engaged in sugarcane cultivation and officials of sugar industry about the latest techniques of sugarcane cultivation. The Main objective of the Institute is to enhance income of the farmers with increase of per acre yield by providing training about latest sugarcane cultivation techniques as well as pure seed of elite sugarcane varieties having higher yield to the farmers, averred the minister adding that the first phase will be completed by the end of next year.Meanwhile, Markfed has initiated the work for development of Punjab Markfed website via e-tender (e-procurement) on September 14, 2020 and is under process. Apart from this, the project pertaining to New Markfed Cattlefeed Plant at Kapurthala received a grant in aid of Rs. 5 Crores under RKVY scheme and started functioning in March, 2020. The plant has the capacity to produce 150 TPD expandable upto 300 TPD.Notably, another institution of the Punjab cooperative sector, the Punjab State Agricultural Development Bank (PADB) got financial help of Rs. 750 Crores under Special Liquidity Facility (SLF) from NABARD in November, 2020 after a delegation consisting of Cooperation & Jails Minister, Registrar Cooperative Societies and MD met Chairman NABARD at Mumbai.The Minister further said that keeping in view the trying times of Covid-19 pandemic, during recovery campaign Rabi-2020, the bank waived penal interest for the period from March 1, 2020 to July 31, 2020 in case of all those borrowers who paid their entire default amount and regularised or closed their loan accounts. Under this scheme 1199 farmers/account holders got a relief of Rs. 6.16 Lacs and recovery of Rs 31.02 Crore was effected from such accounts. Further, during recovery campaign Kharif-2020, bank waived the outstanding penal interest of all the borrowers w.e.f. October 21, 2020 in case of all those borrowers who paid their entire default amount and regularised or closed their loan by December 31,2020. Under this scheme 2337 farmers/account holders got a relief of Rs 3.26 Crore and recovery of Rs 41.61 Crore was effected from such accounts. With a view to provide relief to the farmers, the rate of interest on the loans advanced by PADBs to farmers has been reduced from 12.10% to 10.10%. This has been done by reducing the margin of SADB and PADBs on the basis of interest rate reduced by NABARD, revealed S. Randhawa.
Disclosing more, the Minister said that the individuals, cooperative banks, cooperative institutions and other organizations whom the banking facilities are provided have helped the Punjab State Cooperative Bank (PSCB) increase its deposit base. As on March 31, 2020 the deposits of PSCB are Rs. 3551.64 crore and deposits of District Central Cooperative Banks (DCCBs) are to the tune of Rs. 15572.57 crore. The major portfolio of the cooperative banks has been to provide Short Term credit to the farmers in Punjab. The District Central Cooperative Banks had advanced Short Term Agricultural Loans to the tune of Rs. 10193.30 crore during the year 2019-20. The Cooperative Banks have restarted advancing loans to self-employed females, unemployed and low income persons under JLG Model without any collateral at 14-16% of interest thereby giving an access to them for availing the institutional credit to meet their day to day needs. Uptill October 2020, the cooperative banks have advanced an amount of Rs. 1897.49 lakh under JLG scheme, revealed S. Randhawa also divulging that CCL amounting to Rs.627.72 crore was sanctioned to 9 Cooperative Sugar mills for the year 2020-21apart from the soft loan amounting Rs.69.20 crore to 9 sugar mills.Dwelling upon the other innovative measures, the Minister listed the implementation of PFMS (Public Financial Management System) in the cooperative banks. With this the banks have become able to transfer various Central Government subsidies and amounts related with welfare schemes directly into the beneficiary accounts. The Bank has obtained direct membership for RTGS/NEFT from RBI and hence now can do remittance of funds in a better way. The other pathbreaking initiatives included Bharat Bill Payment System under which any customer can pay any type of utility bill from the branches, E-Stamp Facility through select Branches of the DCCBs, Starting of Insurance Business as Corporate Agent without risk participation. Under this business Bank has entered into agreement with 3 General Insurance, 2 Life Insurance and 1 Health Insurance Companies thus helping in increasing non-fund income of the Bank.
Three new loan schemes viz Cooperative Liquidity Facility (CLF) to DCCBs, Liquidity Support Scheme (LSS) to MPCASS/PACS and Medium-term Loans to Farmers (MTLF). These Schemes will help farmers/businessmen to avail additional credit facilities during the tough times of COVID-19 pandemic, New Debt Settlement (Other than Indirect Agri Loans) Scheme 2020 with a view to provide relief to the borrowers of Punjab State Cooperative Bank/Central Cooperative Banks in Punjab, for those who have not been able to repay their dues timely and have become defaulters are provided an opportunity of Settlement to liquidate their loans, Contemplating to amalgamate all the District Central Cooperative Banks with the Punjab State Cooperative Bank in the larger interest of Cooperative Banks, farmers of the State and general Public in Punjab. In view of the above, the Punjab Cabinet has given the approval for amalgamation and on June 8, 2020, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has also given its “In Principle approval” for amalgamation. After making compliance of conditions laid down by RBI, the case has already been forwarded to NABARD for onward submission to RBI for granting final approval. Under the re-launched Bhai Ghaniya Sehat Sewa Scheme 143398 main members and 212567 dependent members have been enrolled during 2020-21. Out of these, 12512 beneficiaries have taken the cashless treatment of Rs. 15.27 crores till date. Claims for 13 women beneficiaries for paying them Rs. 2100/- (Shagun) on the birth of a girl child have also been raised under this scheme during the year, said the Minister.Prominent among others who were present on the occasion included Financial Commissioner Cooperation K Siva Prasad, Registrar Cooperative Societies Vikas Garg, MD Markfed Varun Roojam, MD Sugarfed Puneet Goyal, MD Milkfed Kamaldeep Singh Sangha, MD PADB Charandev Singh Mann.