COOPERATIVES MINISTER Gopal Bhargava has taken strong exception to tenders invited by MP State Seed & Farm Development Corporation for handing over management of 39 State-owned farms to private parties in MP.
In a letter to Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Bhargava pointed out that a Cabinet sub-committee was formed by the State Cabinet on October 28, 2005, while considering the sale of Babai farm. It was to decide course of action for a turnaround of loss-making farms and nurseries of the Agriculture Department.
Bhargava was Agriculture Minister then. He continues to be a member of the committee even after change of department. Bhargava said the sub-committee has only collected information about the volume of loss being incurred by different farms and nurseries and reasons responsible for the loss.
It is yet to arrive at a conclusion or make recommendations to the State Cabinet on how to go about bringing those loss-making farms and nurseries into profit.
Meanwhile, the State Seed and Farm Development Corporation recently floated tender inviting private parties to take over management of the 39 State-owned farms.
Last date for submitting tenders for the purpose was September 11. The farms proposed to be handed over to private firms include those located at Khamariya, Lakhnadaun, Damoh, Balgarh, Bajattakhurd, Berasia, Betul Bazaar, Lakhanwada, Bijora, Janakpur, Bannakheda, Hatod, Kurwai, Seoni Malwa, Gadarwada, Mauza Gatsagar, Revara, Birgauda, Guna, Begumganj, Babai, Dindori, Bijawar, Kharwahi, Manawar, Pipraud, Udaipura, Seoni, Kundeshwar, Paundi, Burhanpur, Baroda, Sultanpur, Chhapara, Bamhauribarana, Mankisar, Badwah, Bhind and Byora.
Bhargava's letter further said that the corporation, by floating tenders to hand over management of 39 farms to private firms without taking the Cabinet sub-committee into confidence, has rendered the sub-committee formed by the State Cabinet redundant and it was blatantly wrong.
Stating that without receiving recommendations of the Cabinet sub-committee formed by the State Cabinet, if the corporation has gone ahead with floating tenders to hand over management to private firms, the Cabinet decision to form the sub-committee has lost relevance and it must be found out as to why and in which circumstances the tenders were invited, disrupting a process initiated at the initiative of the State Cabinet.
Urging the Chief Minister to initiate action against officials responsible for the act, he said that the tender should also be immediately cancelled.
A top official of the Agriculture Department, while admitting that such a tender notice has been published, said that it was felt that a turnaround of loss-making farms could only be possible if they were handed over to private parties or interested groups of farmers.