House panel slams govt for apathy towards natural rubber farmers

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Kochi | Published: May 6, 2016 5:16:10 AM

The Rubber Board is still to be constituted even when a period of more than two years has elapsed since the expiry of the tenure.

An Action Taken Report (ATR) of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on commerce chaired by Chandan Mitra has criticised the Centre for its indifferent attitude towards natural rubber (NR). The report says that the government has been indifferent to the woes of rubber farmers and permitted excess imports, delayed the national policy on rubber and kept key posts in the state-run Rubber Board vacant for more than two years.

Higher imports of NR into the domestic market has led to a sharp decline in prices, hurting more than 12 lakh growers. Rubber farmers are demanding the Union government to slap a ban on import of natural rubber through all channels.

The report is very critical of the fact that the Union government has been indifferent towards filling the crucial vacancies of a regular chairman, rubber production commissioner and a regular secretary to the Rubber Board.

The Rubber Board is still to be constituted even when a period of more than two years has elapsed since the expiry of the tenure. The committee is of the view that such delay exhibits complete apathy on the part of the government towards production of natural rubber and the welfare of rubber growers. The ATR also puts a question mark on the very creation of these crucial posts.

Higher imports of NR also come into for a sharp rebuke by the committee that finds that the government has not taken effort to ensure that the import of NR is meant for real consumption and not for stocking.

The committee states that the government should ensure that import of NR is need based and the quantum of imports is determined on the basis of the gap between the domestic production and consumption. The committee finds it interesting to note that despite huge increase in imports of natural rubber during the period 2009-14, the consumption growth has not kept pace with it.

The government had constituted an expert committee on June 16, 2014 mandated to examine issues related to rubber production, development, consumption and exports and suggest a national policy on rubber.

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