The state's second maize crop dryer plant, inaugurated by deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal on Saturday in Nawanshahr, has caused an additional burden of Rs 1.5 crore to the cash-strapped SAD-BJP government as the project was shifted from its original location in the grain market under pressure from the lobby of commission agents.
Sources in the mandi board said that for shifting the location of dryer plant, the department had to take possession of around 3 acres, on which the plant was finally developed, from the colonisation department, which was actually the owner of land.
Sources added that the mandi board had to take change of land use (CLU) for this plot which cost around `1 crore. They also said that the land was lying abandoned for several years and was kept initially for developing a wood market.
The department removed bushes and huts of some poor people who were living on this land and then it had to construct a new cemented floor for the plant which cost around `50 lakh to the mandi board.
Interestingly, there was availability of a such cemented floor at the earlier location.
According to available information, the mandi board had initial selected 2.5 acre land in Nawanshahr grain market, and the construction of the plant had already started there. However, sensing trouble for their trade activities, the commission agents raised the bogey of shortage of space in the market even as the mandi board had agreed to give another piece of land, around 3.5 kanals, to the commission agents for procurement.
The sources stated that commission agents opposed the location of the plant plant inside the market, as it was going to benefit maize farmers and reduce the profits of commission agents.
This plea was rejected by the mandi board and then the commission agents approached chief minister Parkash Singh Badal. Thereafter, the location of the project was changed from inside the grain market to a piece of land outside it, which increased the cost of the project.
The first such maize dryer of the country was inaugurated at Salia Khurd village of Hoshiarpur district on October 9, 2013, at a cost of Rs 9 crore.
After the opposition by commission agents in April 2013, representatives of Bhartiya Kisan Union (Lakhowal) and Bhartiya Kisan Union (Rajewal) also met Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, the chairman of Punjab Mandi Board and urged him not to shift the location of the plant but to no avail.
Nawanshahr district mandi officer Beant Singh said that he was not aware about the change of land use and other issues which increased the cost of project but admitted that the total cost of project was Rs 10.16 crore.
Sukhbir Singh Badal inaugurated the second maize dryer plantin the state, constructed at a cost of `10.16 crore, on Saturday in Nawanshahr.
The first such maize dryer of the state and the country was inaugurated in Salia Khurd village of Hoshiarpur district on October 9, 2013 by chief minister Parkash Singh Badal. This plant was built at a cost of Rs 9 crore.