Vigilance panel raises eyebrows on wheat imports

Written by ASHOK B SHARMA | New Delhi, Sep 30 | Updated: Oct 1 2007, 07:24am hrs
The Centres wheat import plans have run into rough weather with the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) questioning the motive behind the decision.

According to sources, the CVC has asked the Union food and consumer affairs ministry to clarify weather imports made in 2006 and 2007 could have been avoided if the government agencies were sincere in procuring enough wheat for the buffer stock from farmers, by adequately raising the minimum support price (MSP).

It wanted to know why wheat imports were planned and announced before the harvest. The CVC has also question the government for the delay in announcing the minimum support price (MSP) for wheat and the bonus price on procurement.

The report of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) said : The late announcement of bonus (in 2006) deprived many farmers, particularly small farmers, who sold their crop to private traders as soon it was harvested.

The CVC has also asked as to why the government had to import wheat at higher prices by placing an extra burden on the exchequer, when the produce was adequately available in the country and wheat output has increased to about 75 million tonne.

The enquiry panel has questioned the government for lowering quarantine norms. Many states have rejected imported wheat as unfit for human consumption. The CVC has acted upon a complaint filed by the former BJP MP, Kirit Somaiya.

We have received the complaint from Mr Somaiya and have asked the food ministry to clarify certain points raised by him, said a senior CVC official.