Yoga guru Ramdev has claimed that the employment generated by his mega food park, launched on Saturday, would bail out debt-ridden farmers in Vidarbha.
The announcement was made at the launch of the park in multi-model International Cargo Hub and Airport, Nagpur (MIHAN) in presence of the chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, the Union minister for transport and shipping, Nitin Gadkari and a huge gathering of farmers.
The proposed food park, spread over 230-acre of land would provide direct employment to 10,000 people, said Ramdev. “We are fighting to make our country economically independent and freedom from multi-national companies by promoting indigenous and natural products,” he claimed. He also said that it would bail out the crisis-ridden farm sector of Vidarbha that is infamous for farmer suicides.
The company plans to develop a modern food park by building a Rs 1000-crore plant, and manufacture juice made from the famous Nagpuri orange. This would be the first time that orange juice made from local fruit would be packaged as a brand, the yoga guru said.
Union minister Gadkari, who has been instrumental in getting Ramdev to invest in food parks and allied business in the region, claimed that the yoga guru’s company Patanjali would be a boon for the farmers of the region and it would usher in modernization of the Nagpur city.
According to him, tribals from Gadchiroli, Gondia and Chandrapur who make a living collecting forest produces, like medicinal plants and herbs would benefit hugely from this initiative.
Farmers will be trained by Patanjali workers to grow orange, aloe vera, tomato and herbs according to the specification of the company and given a purchase guarantee. A team of scientists and other experts are also working on the project that is expected to change the farm economy of the region.
Speaking on the occasion, the chief minister, Fadnavis dismissed the allegations levelled by the former Union minister, Vilas Muttemwar that the government has given the plot of land to Patanjali at less than half of the cost that other investors have paid at MIHAN.
“The process involved at giving the land to Patanjali was transparent. We had floated tenders thrice and Patanjali Ayurveda was found to be the right choice in the bidding as per the central vigilance commission norms,” Fadnavis said.
The government wanted a commitment to procure raw materials to the tune of at least Rs 100 crore per annum from the farmers and members of tribal community within the surrounding area.
It also laid a condition that the bidder should commit to train minimum 2,000 farmers per year across Maharashtra to improve productivity, quality and market intelligence to get them ready for agro business development in consultation with agriculture department. “Patanjali has assured to fulfill all these norms,” the chief minister said. The plant is expected to link nearly 50,000 farmers’ suppliers, create direct employment for over 10,000 people and eventually provide indirect employment to lakhs of families.
Regarding the land deal, senior Congress leader Muttemwar had said that as against the running rate of Rs 60-lakh per acre, Patanjali has been charged only Rs 25-lakh an acre. He said that this deal was against all norms and hence should be probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as the state-run MIHAN had acquired land from farmers and was giving it on a platter to Patanjali as a special favour.
Muttemwar alleged that the deal was nothing but the BJP government was repaying a favour to Ramdev who had campaigned wholeheartedly for the party during the 2014 general elections.