Yoga guru Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurveda Private Limited will set up an agro herbal, food park over 230 acres of government acquired land, as part of its Multi-modal International Cargo Hub and Airport (MIHAN) cargo hub project in Nagpur.
The Maharashtra Airport Development Corporation (MADC), nodal agency implementing the MIHAN project on Thursday, in an official communication said that a global tender was called for the food park project this May after the board first mooted such a proposal in March.
Patanjali Ayurveda was the only company to respond to the tender notice after a third notice was issued in August.
The designing of the tender conditions however is likely to raise questions given that the state government had first signed a MOU with Patanjali Yogapeeth in February this year for developing food processing plants in Katol (200 acres)and MIHAN (400 acres) in Nagpur across 600 acres.
The MOU announcement had been made in the presence of Union minister Nitin Gadkari and energy minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule. The Opposition had taken on the government for this blatant favouritism and largesse, questioning why tenders had not been issued for the project.
The decision of MADC to issue global tenders comes after this controversy, leading opponents to now question the tender conditions that only attracted one company. Officials admitted that the global tenders were issued to avoid any criticism.
The government notice had called for bids from companies with at least three years experience in the food, herbal products industry, with an annual turn over of Rs 300 crore.
As part of the deal, Patanjali Ayurveda will have to set up the park within six months and get the production going within 18 months. Besides, the company will have to buy local produce and raw products worth Rs 100 crore annually from farmers and tribals from the surrounding areas. The company will also have to train 1,000 farmers every year to “ improve productivity, quality and market intelligence to get them ready for agro business development in consultation with agriculture department”, said the MADC communication.
This land was acquired in 2013 and had remained undeveloped. MIHAN is one of the most ambitious projects of the government in Vidarbha to secure development and employment opportunities. MADC said that the food park was designed looking at Vidarbha’s backlog, farmers suicides and opportunities for the peasant and tribal population.