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Khagaria nod for food park debut

New Delhi, Nov. 24: Khagaria has pipped Bhagalpur in the race to house Bihar’s first food park.

The first central processing centre in the state is likely to come up by February 2013 at Mansi in Khagaria district, around 180km east of Patna.

The project, with an estimated investment of Rs 414 crore, was awarded to a Delhi-based firm, Pristine Mega Food Park Private Limited, by the Union ministry of food processing industries under the public-private-partnership mode.

The firm has been asked to come up with a detailed project report at the earliest.

The firm was given in-principle approval to establish the park with an initial investment of Rs 150 crore in August this year, sources said.

“We have already started construction on the 70-acre plot in Mansi and substantial work would be completed by February, when we will get the food park inaugurated. To start with, we will have 8-10 food processing units and the number will go up to 32 to 36 in the coming years,” said Aashish Kumar Jha, chief executive officer of the Pristine Mega Food Park Private Limited.

The centre promises to have state-of-the-art infrastructure to process agro products and showcase successful, modern and efficient agro-based business ventures to the world.

“The food park is meant to prevent wastage of farm produce, encourage agro-entrepreneurship, dismantle multi layered middlemen agencies in the existing supply chain, ensure better prices at the farm gate level and give a boost to the state’s agro-based economy,” a senior official in the state industries department said.

Jha, on the other hand, emphasised that the central processing centre would generate employment for about 11,000 people.

“Key facilities at the centre include an adjoining logistics park with a dry port and inland container depot, ripening chamber, dry warehouse, multi commodity cold storage, deep packing halls, effluent treatment plant, testing labs and pulping and aseptic packaging line, food incubation cum development centre among others,” he said.

Mansi, said Jha, was apt for the project “as it lies in the middle of one of the highest maize, fruits, vegetables, dairy producing clusters in the country and has adequate labour pool”.

“Apart from these, a stable and supportive political environment, abundant water and power supply, link to rail-road lines are favourable factors,” he said.

The food park at Mansi is one of three such parks proposed in the state. While the Kahalgaon (Bhagalpur) project, undertaken by Keventers and Future group, has been stuck after farmers aggressively protested land acquisition, claiming that they had not been compensated adequately, the third park is yet to be approved by the Centre.