Rattled by public complaints concerning unauthorsied use of the building of Solan Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) for publicity by a private agriculture company, the authorities of the State Agriculture and Marketing Board on Monday asked the APMC authorities to submit a detailed report within a week over the issue.
The board authorities also asked the APMC secretary to initiate needed lawful action against the agriculture company over its failure in making use of ripening chamber and a cold store on the premises of fruit and vegetable marketing complex in Kather area of the town.
Sources in the APMC revealed that the cold store and ripening chamber in question were allotted to a Gujarat-based Champion Agro Company during the regime of the previous BJP government in violation of the provisions of the Marketing Act.
The APMC authorities instead of allotting the shops and offices to traders had chosen to allot a cold store, ripening chamber and a big hall to start commercial activities inside the complex to the company on monthly rental basis. The rent was fixed at only `50,000, leaving many questions unanswered.
Sources revealed that the ripening chamber was constructed at a cost of `45 lakh to provide chemical-free banana to the consumers. Surprisingly, the company had only supplied a small quantity of banana to the consumers on the occasion of chamber's inauguration on June 7. After this, the company neither used the chambers for ripening bananas nor used the cold store, bringing the role of APMC authorities under scanner.
Sources revealed that the officials concerned not only allotted the cold store and chambers without inviting proper tenders, but also allowed the company to use the government building for free-of-cost publicity.
After this, the company not only installed the hoardings, but also pasted the advertisement materials on the building's walls.
The trouble brewed up after traders and representatives of various agriculture companies lodged a protest before the board authorities and demanded to allot the halls, shops and offices to them inside the complex.
The traders said since the APMC authorities had provided the hall to Champion Agro Company in violation of law, shops and offices should be allotted to the commission agents to carry out smooth business operations.
Sources revealed that after this the board authorities wrote a letter to the APMC secretary, asking him to submit a detailed report over the issue, including that how the company was allowed to start commercial operations inside the complex.
The board had asked him to also explain that under which provisions of act, the halls was allotted to the company and why the action has not been initiated for not making the best use of cold store and ripening chambers.
APMC secretary Bhanu Sharma said the committee had invited tenders before allotment, but none of the traders or companies had come forward to participate in the process. After this, hall, cold store and chamber were allotted to the company at `50,000 monthly rent.