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Harsimrat Kaur Chooses To Play Politics Over Developmental Issues

Does a Union minister, come to inaugurate developmental projects in her home state, necessarily have to play politics over it just because the chief minister happens to be leading an opposition party government there. This is what happened recently at the inauguration of two major food processing units – Iscon Balaji Foods Pvt Ltd and Godrej Tyson Foods Ltd – at the sprawling 100 acres Mega Food Park Ladhowal, an infrastructure project of Punjab Agro Industries Corporation (PAIC), in Ludhiana district of Punjab.

Addressing a joint programme to mark the formal inauguration of the two units, and later interacting with the invited media, on February 24, Union Food Processing Industries Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal lashed out at Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh for not working fast enough on the dozens of projects approved for the state by her ministry in line with efforts to realise the national goal of doubling farmers’ incomes.

Harsimrat Kaur Chooses To Play Politics Over Developmental Issues, Lifeinchd

Photos By : Life In Chandigarh

The state government is offering land parcels to investors, proposing to set up mega food parks, mini food parks, cold chains, etc., at exorbitant rates and the pace of developing infrastructure at planned sites is also too slow. Brandishing a bunch of official communications before media persons, she asserted that despite writing several letters and reminders to the chief minister, who has been pushing these to officials, things are just not moving.

Harsimrat Kaur Chooses To Play Politics Over Developmental Issues, Lifeinchd

Even the power infrastructure has been laid here only after learning of her visit, she said, adding that this will not deter her from bringing more projects to the state and speeding up its development. “It may be happening for the first time that even while the mega food park itself has yet to be inaugurated, two major units are being inaugurated,” she maintained, apparently trying to score brownie points.

Harsimrat Kaur Chooses To Play Politics Over Developmental Issues, Lifeinchd

All this, while Union Minister of State in her ministry Rameswar Teli, who hails from the North East, in his address, concentrated on development issues. The top honchos of the two companies were also apparently happy with the way things had moved for them so far, though they appeared reluctant to share information regarding investment and employment generation.

Harsimrat Kaur, however boasted that with an investment of nearly Rs 100 crore, the two companies will together create employment opportunities for 950 locals and pick up sizable quantities of the dominant crop of potato in the region, besides other vegetables like carrot, peas, etc.

The backdrop on the dais also announced that the Gujarat-based Iscon Balaji Foods plant will have an annual capacity of processing 70,000 metric tonnes (MT) of potato crop, leveraging an investment of Rs 40 crore, while Godrej Tyson Foods unit will have an annual installed capacity to make 5,700 metric tonnes of ready to eat & cook food products, leveraging an investment of Rs 65 crore.

The Union minister informed the gathering that another mega food park, concentrating on maize crop, will be ready for inauguration in the next two-three months in Kapurthala district,  and will go a long way in diversification of crop from the water guzzling paddy to maize.

Sukhjit Mega Food Park, spread over 55 acres, is about 15 kms from Phagwara adjoining Phagwara-Hoshiarpur state highway, in Kapurthala district of Punjab. Nearly all of the 30-40 units to be housed in the mega park will be maize (corn) based.

Harsimrat Kaur Chooses To Play Politics Over Developmental Issues, Lifeinchd

Potato flakes

Later talking to LifeInChandigarh.com, Neel Kotak, Managing Director, Iscon Balaji Foods Pvt Ltd, said their Ladhowal plant, with a capacity to process 72,000 MT raw material (potato) annually, makes potato flakes which are used in several ready to eat food stuffs. “We have two plants in Gujarat – one for making potato flakes and the other for making french fries. The company works with 5,000 farmers in Gujarat and aspires to replicate the same in Punjab,” he added.

Harsimrat Kaur Chooses To Play Politics Over Developmental Issues, Lifeinchd

While showing his reluctance to talk about installed capacity of the Ladhowal plant, Godrej Tyson Foods Ltd Chief Executive Officer Prashant Vatkar shared with LifeInChandigarh.com that right now it is not working to full capacity.

Harsimrat Kaur Chooses To Play Politics Over Developmental Issues, Lifeinchd

“May be, it will take two years to achieve full capacity utilisation. The market sentiment is also slightly depressed, and it applies to all sectors, including food. But, we are happy with the way things are going. There are no problems, no concerns. Every project needs stabilisation time. We feel we are on course,” he emphasised.

Expressing confidence that the future of the food sector is bright, he informed that they have a lot of room for further expansion of the plant as and when required.

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