The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today said the Union food processing industry ministry led by Harsimrat Kaur Badal had brought in projects worth Rs 1,000 crore into Punjab benefitting one lakh farmers.In a statement here, former minister and SAD spokesman Maheshinder Singh Grewal said this was the first time that a central minister had got so many projects to her State. “Earlier during ten years of UPA rule there were seven ministers from Punjab in the union cabinet but they failed to get a single important project to Punjab”. Giving details of the projects which had come to Punjab, the Akali leader said one mega food park had been operationalised at Fazilka and two had been sanctioned at Ludhiana and Kapurthala at a cost of Rs 371 crore along with a grant of Rs 90 crore from the ministry of food processing. He said these mega food parks would give direct employment to 15,000 persons besides benefitting 75,000 farmers. Mr Maheshinder Grewal said other projects sanctioned by the food processing industry included 14 integrated cold chain and value added infrastructure at a cost of Rs 347 crore. He said the food processing ministry had sanctioned Rs 67 crore for this project which would benefit 15,000 farmers.
The Akali leader said in order to benefit farmers directly and help them to add value to their produce the food processing ministry had sanctioned three food processing units in the mega food parks at a cost of Rs 109 crore. He said two food testing laboratories had also been sanctioned at a cost of Rs 10 crore.The Akali leader said it was unfortunate that instead of helping the food processing industry in its efforts to help farmers, the Congress government did not help the ministry to spread awareness about the SAMPADA scheme for which Rs 6,000 crore would be dispersed to add value to food products. He said similarly the Congress government was ambivalent towards the World Food India (WFI) which could have helped the State immensely as it had ushered in investment of $14 billion into the food processing industry. Mr Grewal said the Congress government had not done anything for the welfare of farmers and farm labourers despite the promise of a Rs 90,000 crore complete farm loan waiver. “The government should try to cooperate with the central government to implement food processing schemes instead of ignoring this important aspect of development”, he added.