The Telegraph
Wednesday , February 26 , 2014

Minister coy about status of land for food park

- Secretary expresses displeasure over Centre-sponsored projects in Bihar, state takes guard

Patna, Feb. 25: Ignorance is bliss but not always.

The adage seemed applicable to state industries minister Renu Kumari, who on Tuesday apparently didn’t have any clue about the Keventer Mega Food Park project all set to turn a reality.

After secretary of the ministry of food processing industries Siraj Hussain said the Centre-sponsored mega food park projects in the state were a major problem area, Renu expressed disappointment about the Keventer project, which was to be set up on government land at Kahalgaon in Bhagalpur.

Renu, Hussain and many other senior officials of the central and the state governments were taking part in a conference on “Opportunities for Food Processing Industries in Bihar” in the city on Tuesday. Tariq Anwar, the minister of state for agriculture and food processing industries, was also present.

“What happened to the Keventer food park project? If they (the company) have taken the land the government has provided, they will stay. If not, they will go. What to do!” said Renu.

Renu’s comments came much after the Centre lamented the fact that food parks, given to the state by the Centre, have not come up. She seemed ignorant about the fact that Keventer Agro, which had walked out of the Industrial Growth Centre (IGC) at Kahalgaon in August last year after Bihar Industrial Area Development Authority failed to provide it land even after acquiring the same, had found a plot by itself in Kahalgaon, the registration process of which is on.

Keventer Agro chairman M.K. Jalan had confirmed the same to The Telegraph earlier. Sources said the state government was now mulling to come up with a mega food park and then lease it out to interested buyers based on the suggestions from the Centre.

“The fact that Bihar has not been able to establish any of the food parks partially sponsored by the Centre is a problem area. However, the ministry has now made certain changes in the rules with advertisements regarding the same to be out shortly. Earlier, the state government couldn’t form a food park by itself and the Centre could only float tenders. Private parties are always welcome to start food park projects anywhere they want in the country. According to the new norm, the state governments can float tenders for setting up of food parks. They can acquire land for the same,” Hussain said.

Renu told The Telegraph that the state government could give a thought about the same. She, however, announced any project worth Rs 100 crore or more coming to the state would get a six per cent interest subsidy.

An industrialist, however, said: “It is impossible that the state government doesn’t know that Keventer Agro has bought its own land for the project. Maybe the minister didn’t want to be embarrassed in front of the Centre’s representatives. Hence, she expressed ignorance about the current status of the project. The state government must come up with a set of norms before creating food parks by itself.”