Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav skipped an investment event in Jagdishpur, Amethi, where the local MP and Congress Vice President, Rahul Gandhi laid the foundation of a Rs 1,200-crore mega food park being set up by the Aditya Birla group. Sources in the USD 40 billion Aditya Birla group, a global conglomerate, said that an invitation was duly served to the UP chief minister and a senior official in his secretariat had also indicated that Akhilesh Yadav was likely to grace the occasion. The group owns the largest private sector fertiliser plant in India located in Jagdishpur, which falls under the Amethi parliamentary constituency represented by Rahul Gandhi.
It was an embarrassing day for Rahul Gandhi as the President of the Amethi district panchayat Kamla Devi defected to the ruling Samajwadi Party from the Congress. Describing SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav as the sole messiah of the poor in the country, she formally joined the ruling party in state capital Lucknow in the presence of the Cabinet Minister and party’s spokesman, Rajendra Chowdhary. In the March 2012 state assembly elections, the Congress won two out of the five assembly segments falling under the Amethi parliamentary constituency and lost all the five assembly seats falling under the neighbouring Raebareli parliamentary constituency held by Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
After laying the foundation stone of the mega food park in the campus of Indo-Gulf Fertilisers, he said, “Mujhe maza aa jayega agar Amethi agriculture hub ban gaya (I would be thrilled if Amethi becomes an agriculture hub).”
Talking about poverty among farmers in UP, he said, “UP is the top producer of mango in India, which is exported to USA, Europe and other nations, but farmers get nothing and the huge profit is pocketed by traders. Similarly despite being the largest mango producers, the fruit is not processed in UP; it’s being done elsewhere. I wish that Amethi emerges as the agriculture hub of India with maximum number of food processing units and farmers get a remunerative price for agriculture produce. The mega food park will generate 40,000 jobs in the area. Like Bangalore developed due to Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL),which was set up there over 60 years ago, this Mega Food Park will change the destiny of farmers in UP.”
He pointed out that while farmers get Rs 6 to Rs 10 for one kg of potato, potato chips sell at Rs 400 per kg. He also said that several fruits and vegetables like mango, gooseberry, potato, tomato, etc would be processed in the food park and the food processing units would buy the agriculture products at the doorstep of the farmers. Moreover, an air cargo terminal would be developed at the nearby Fursatganj air academy in Raibareli to facilitate the export of the processed food.
Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Processing, Charan Das Mahant said that by opening the mega food park, the dream of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had been fulfilled by his son Rahul.
Gandhi said that the day was not far off when UP would be among the top states in the export of processed food. He added that the farmers would get the benefit of selling their items from their homes to the processing units. “The people of Amethi are my family and now Kumar Manglam Birla, who will be setting up this mega food park, has joined the family. We and the Birlas, with the support of the people of Amethi, will fulfill the dream of Rajivji,” he added. The Congress Vice President announced another sop for his Parliamentary constituency saying that closed down Hindustan Paper Mill would be reopened, giving jobs to 10,000 people.
Aditya Birla group chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla announced that his company would invest Rs 200 crore in the initial stages to set up 40 units of food processing units. The units would benefit 40,000 farmers and provide direct jobs to 25,000 people. He also said that they enjoyed a close relationship with the Nehru-Gandhi family and that Rahul Gandhi had strengthened it by laying the foundation of the Shaktiman Mega Food Park. ‘Twenty five years ago, Rajiv Gandhi had inaugurated the Indo-Gulf Fertilisers and now his son is doing it for the Mega Park. This food park will be a milestone for UP,” he stressed.