Farmers in Punjab donated nearly 50,000 tonnes of wheat to the the community kitchens of various shrines, particularly gurdwaras and temples, during the last 45 days of the lockdown when the harvesting season started in the state, the agriculture department estimate reveals.
Of the 6,260 tonne grain the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC)-run gurdwaras received during the same period, the Sri Guru Ram Das langar in the Golden Temple, Amritsar, got 3,650 tonne in charity against 1,600 tonne last year.
The SGPC officials say the grain they received in charity at the shrine is sufficient to feed the pilgrims for entire year or even more.
“From April 1 last year to March 31, 2020, as much as 3,007 tonne wheat flour was cooked at the community kitchen and more than 2.1 crore people partook of langar,” said SGPC chief secretary Roop Singh.
The stocks are increasing after relaxations in the lockdown imposed to check the spread of the coronavirus as pilgrims have started arriving in bigger numbers now. As per the gurdwara committee, 700 people are served chapattis cooked from 1 quintal wheat flour.
There are 118 SGPC-controlled gurdwaras in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, with all of them getting huge stocks of wheat in donations.
Other than the Golden Temple, the bigger gurdwaras managed by SGPC in Tarn Taran, Fatehgarh Sahib, Mohali, Anandur Sahib, Patiala, Ludhiana, Baba Bakala, Ambala and Panchkula have received double the wheat stocks they received in previous years, Roop Singh said.
“Besides, we grow wheat and paddy in our farms to meet our requirement,” he added.
‘1.32 CR PARTOOK OF LANGAR IN 2 MONTHS’
As per the SGPC’s estimates, at least 1.32 crore people partook of langar or were supplied cooked food in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh in April and May.
“We arrive at the figure by the amount of wheat flour cooked,” said the chief secretary. At least 30% more flour was cooked in the two months before lockdown,” he said.
Secretary (agriculture) Kahan Singh Pannu said farmers donated more than the previous years due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown. “Our figures are based on the estimates by our field staff and the information we gathered from villages.