ALLEGING THE state government was not registering a case nor was acting against any erring officers in what it claimed to be adulteration in a groundnut stock stored in a godown in Gandhidham town of Kutch district, Congress on Sunday began three-day Khedut Samvedana Yatra, a tractor march from Gandhidham to state capital Gandhinagar.
Senior Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia flagged off the Khedut Samvedana Yatra to show compassion to farmers from near the statue of Sardar Patel in Gandhidham town. Farmers riding 52 tractors joined the march led by Pal Ambaliya, convenor of farmers’ cell of Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee, and Yajuvedrasinh Jadeja, president of Kutch district unit of Congress. Ambaliya said the march will traverse through Kutch, Morbi, Surendranagar and Ahmedabad before culminating in Gandhinagar on Tuesday.
“Since the time adulteration came to light in groundnut stored in a godown in Pedhla last year, we have been demanding that stock of the oilseed stored in every godown be checked. But the government is turning a deaf ear to our complaints and instead asks for a formal complaint and evidence. There was corruption in procurement of toor (pigeon pea) in Junagadh this year. Now, stones and pebble have been found in a groundnut stock in a godown in Gandhidham. There is a police complaint in this regard and there is evidence also, but no one is taking action. Therefore, as asked by the deputy chief minister, we are going to Gandhinagar to produce CDs as evidence,” Modhwadia told The Indian Express over phone.
On June 21, a team of Congress workers, led by Ambaliya, along with some mediapersons conducted a public raid on Shri Vinayak Godown, a private warehouse in Gandhidham, hired by the Gujarat State Warehousing Corporation and had claimed the bags contained unusual amounts of stones, pebbles and soil. The Congress leaders had shot videos of the raid and later released them to the media. Ambaliya had then given a written complaint to “B” Division police station in Gandhidham town.
However, the police had not registered any FIR in this connection, saying they did not have jurisdiction and had instead forwarded the complaint to a local mamlatdar. The mamlatdar, too, said that he would forward it to NAFED and GSWC as he did not have powers to take congnisance of the complaint.
The oilseed stock had been procured by the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED) on behalf of the central government in 2017-18 from farmers of Gujarat at the effective minimum support price of Rs 4,500 per quintal.
After Ambaliya’s public raid, deputy chief minister Nitin Patel had stated that if Congress leaders had any complaints, they could meet him and Chief Minister Vijay Rupani with evidence.
Ambaliya said Congress had submitted memoranda to sub-divisional magistrate of Gandhidham and subsequently to Kutch district collector, but no action had been taken on his complaint.
Kutch collector Remya Mohan on Sunday, however, said: “Warehousing Corporation and NAFED are investigating and doing the needful.”
Ambaliya said the tractor march will make night halts at Halvad and Sanad before reaching Gandhinagar on July 2 and that GPCC president Amit Chavda, Congress Legislature Party leader Paresh Dhanani, party MLAs and leaders like Hardik Patel would join it en route. “Corruption in groundnut procurement is just one of the issues. There is corruption in procurement of toor, paying farmers crop insurance and in resurvey of farmers’ land. We shall raise all these issues during the march,” he said.