Although the Board wanted to start transactions at Tangutur-II and Kondepi auction platforms in Prakasam district and DC Palle platform in Nellore district on Tuesday, no transactions took place due to restrictions imposed by the Prakasam district collector on the movement of buyers. Sources said the Board’s senior officials are discussing the issue with state government officials.
Sources said the Prakasam district collector, while allowing auction platforms to start business, directed that buyers, executives of tobacco firms and Board staffers from red zones should stay in centres at auction platforms till May 3. The collector also told officials of the Board that except farmers, no one visiting the auction centres would be allowed to leave the towns.
Sources said the decision to impose restrictions was taken in view of the fact that most buyers and merchants would be coming from Guntur city which has a large number of Covid-19 positive cases. “We are hopeful of sorting out the issue in a day or two. We will issue special passes to traders and officials visiting the auction platforms,” said a Tobacco Board official.
Auctions were suspended on all 18 platforms on March 21 a few days before the lockdown was announced. Tobacco farmers and traders appealed to the Centre to resume auctions as the tobacco leaf gets damaged on prolonged exposure to heat after which the commerce ministry directed the Board to take measures. A decision to resume operations on the 15 other platforms is yet to be taken.