Shedding tears, Karnataka State Spices Development Board (KSSDB) Chairperson Shashikala Kavali herself alleged that rampant corruption had taken place in the KSSDB and around Rs 21 crore meant for the board is misappropriated so far.
"Officials are not co-operating for the development of the board, while funds provided by the government are not being used properly. Crores of rupees are kept as deposits, while officials are enjoying using the interest amount. Farmers are not getting benefits," she lamented.
Speaking at the inauguration of the three-day Chilli Mela which began at Moorusaviramutt High School ground here on Saturday, she charged that Horticulture Department Commissioner P C Ray and National Horticulture Mission Executive Director K B Rundi are interfering in the board and are pressuring the officials not to co-operate.
Extending co-operation for the development of the board is the responsibility of officials and people's representatives. It is not my personal property, and it is meant for farmers' welfare. I will not tolerate any obstruction for the works aimed at farmers' welfare, she said.
At one point of time, she asked media persons to take officials and leaders to task.
When asked about KSSDB chairpersons' allegation, KSSDB Managing Director Sumashekhar Hullolli expressed ignorance about Rs 21 crore irregularity, clarifying that no corruption has taken place after he took charge.
"There might be some irregularity earlier. At present, the board has Rs 12 crore deposits and it has received Rs three crore grants. Higher officials are not interfering unnecessarily, but we have to follow their instructions," he noted.
Chilli Mela begins
Zilla Panchayat (ZP) President Chaitra Shirur inaugurated the eighth edition of the Chilli Mela, and she asked customers not to bargain with farmers at the event, as it is aimed at eliminating the role of middlemen.
KSSDB directors Basanagouda Patil, K S Atavullakhan, Anil Gurav, G B Pavan, and others were present.
Though 150 stalls were put up, many were empty till evening. KSSDB Chairperson Shashikala Kavali charged that officials have failed to make proper publicity about the event and to attract more farmers. But, officials noted that chilli yield itself is less this time.
The Chille Mela held last year had recorded sale of 1.43 lakh kg of chilli worth Rs 2.37 crore. On the inaugural day of the event this time, only around 3,000 kg of chilli worth over Rs six lakh were sold.