The Punjab government has developed a mobile application with cab aggregator Ola to issue e-passes to over 17 lakh farmers, in a bid to prevent overcrowding at state grain markets during the procurement of wheat.
The procurement of wheat in the state mandis started on Wednesday amid the lockdown imposed to check the coronavirus spread.
According to an official release, the application will help in the online management and regulation of all tractor-trailers and vehicular movement in the mandis.
It removes all unnecessary bias and favouritism, thus bringing transparency to the process, the release said.
Under the initiative, all arhtiyas (commission agents) will be given one pass per wheat trolley, which they will further give to farmers.
Farmers will come to the mandis on a given date at the designated procurement centre.
The app, installed on mobile phones of farmers, will alert them about "rush spots'' to check overcrowding.
The centralised dashboard of the app, an initiative aligned to the social distancing guidelines of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, will also give alerts on pass issuance, expiry and validation.
This mobile app has been adopted by the Punjab Mandi Board to launch an e-pass system with the help of the Department of Governance Reforms and Public Grievances in an effort to streamline the procurement operations in the backdrop of the COVID-19 crisis, said the official release.
The software generates the required number of passes automatically based on the past data available with the mandi board. The passes for a particular day are provided three days in advance to arhtiyas to prevent any kind of rush.
The farmer will also receive an SMS with a pass number and a link to download the app.
Vishwajit Khanna, additional chief secretary, Development, said apart from e-passes , an mPass system has also been developed in the ePMB mobile application.
A unicode SMS is sent to every commission agent at the time of pass issuance.
The arhtiya can allocate passes to farmers through the in-built mPass system. The drivers can then download the mPass using the SMS received on his number, and use this at various police nakas for permitted mobility, the release said.
The online vehicular management shall help the board maintain law and order protocols in the mandis, said Mr Khanna.
Ravi Bhagat, secretary, Punjab Mandi Board, the unique technology solution will help the government manage mandi operations well.
Pranay Jivrajka, co-founder of Ola, in a release said, "By helping the government connect with farmers using our technology platform, we are able to put our capabilities to the best use when the nation requires innovation and collaboration to quickly come out of this national crisis."