Guj: CM, Dhanani spar in Assembly over groundnut procurement

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Gandhinagar, Mar 10 (PTI) Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Wednesday engaged in a heated debate in the Assembly with Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani who alleged a scam in the procurement of groundnuts.

Dhanani raised the issue during question hour, alleging that people associated with the ruling BJP were involved in malpractises.

Farmers are turned away from procurement centres on the ground that the groundnuts they have brought for sale have excess amount of pebbles and sand, the Congress leader said.

'Since farmers can not afford to take it back, they are forced to sell the produce to the middlemen below Minimum Support Price. The middlemen then sell it at MSP (and pocket the difference),' he said.

'You (the BJP) are involved in a groundnut procurement scam,' Dhanani alleged.

Rupani denied the allegation and said farmers never complained about procurement.

'Lakhs of farmers sold their produce at MSP and money was credited directly into their accounts,' the chief minister said.

He also pointed out that it is NAFED, a central agency, and not the state government which procures produce from farmers.

'On one hand, the Congress blames us if pebbles are found in the procured groundnuts. Dhanani even staged a protest over this issue in the past. And if the stock is rejected due to adulteration, you are raising objection,' said Rupani.

A judicial inquiry commission was set up to probe the groundnut scam of 2018 and its report was available, he said, adding, 'We have taken adequate steps and will book the guilty.' Those who were arrested in the past were Congress members, the chief minister claimed.

In 2018, the state government had formed a judicial commission after four godowns where groundnuts procured between October 2017 to February 2018 were stored caught fire.

In some places, stocks were found to be adulterated with gravel. The Congress had claimed that godowns were deliberately set on fire to cover up the procurement of adulterated stocks. PTI PJT PD KRK KRK