Centre's apathy leaves State food parks in limbo

Centre's apathy leaves State food parks in limbo

The food ministry is yet to release the grant for promotion of the four projects

Thanks to Centre’s lackadaisical approach and abject apathy, the food parks are languishing in limbo defeating the very purpose for which they were promoted.
Conceived as part of Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MFPI) for development of the sector across the country, these are yet to see light of day.

In fact, official sources told Deccan Herald that all 56 food parks in the country are facing similar fate.  In Karnataka, under 10th Five year Plan, MFPI had approved setting up of food parks at Malur in Kolar district, Hiriyur in Chitradurga district, Navanagar in Bagalkot district and Jewargi in Gulbarga district.

However, though the 10th Five Year Plan came to an end on March 31, 2007, these food parks are yet to see fruitition.  Sources said while the State government has left no stone unturned to see them take off, in the absence of Centre’s fiscal intervention these are yet to be fully completed.

Under the scheme, MFPI, was to provide grant-in-aid of Rs 400 lakh per park with the State government reciprocating with matching grant.  The promoters, selected on the basis of Expression of Interest submitted, are Innova Agri Biotech Park in Malur, Greefood Park Ltd in Bagalkot, Jewargi Food Park Ltd in Jewargi and Akshaya Food Park Ltd in Hiriyur.

Sources said while the State government released necessary grants for promoters, besides the term loan and promoters’ equity  brought in, the food parks have come unstuck due to non-release of grant from the Centre.

Turned a deaf ear

Despite State MPs and officials repeatedly making several representations, the Union food ministry has turned a deaf ear. Both the State government and the promoters have written several letters for release of funds but the Centre has not responded, they added. Sources said while the State released necessary grant for the four food parks, the Centre had not done its bit.

Further, they added, that while State would like to release Centre’s portion as well, as collateral loans to enable promoters complete the parks, however, in the absence of guarantee the Centre would release the amount at later date, is detering them.
Problems faced

In fact, the promoters, they said are facing problems of interest payments on term loans taken from banks besides cost over-runs due to delay. Both the State government and the promoters are in a bind finding themselves in a Catch-22 situation they said waiting for the Centre to release the Rs 10 crore out of Rs 16 crore due for food parks.

Aimed at encouraging tiny and medium scale entrepreneurs, the food parks boast of range of facilities like product development centre, pilot plant with machinery, warehouse for incoming and finished goods, cold storage facility, effluent treatment plant, water, electricity and diesel powered generator et al.