Chandigarh: After having spent over Rs 200 crore (USD 30 million) on constructing farmer-specific agro-Malls, the Haryana government has ‘realised’ that marketing of agricultural products through them is not ‘practical’.
The new BJP government in Haryana is considering converting the agro-malls into general malls so that these can be utilised.
The agro-malls were launched at four places namely Panchkula, Karnal, Panipat and Rohtak by the previous Congress government of chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. The agro-malls were announced in 2008 and were completed in 2013-14.
Haryana Agriculture Minister OP Dhankar felt the concept of agro-malls was “not practical” and they had thus remained a non-starter.
The agro-mall in Rohtak, Hooda’s hometown, was built for over Rs 76 crore and the other three for Rs 50 crore to Rs 55 crore each, agriculture department officials said.
The then government had proposed that the ground floor of the malls would be used to sell agricultural goods and equipment to farmers while the top floor was to have multiplexes.
And there lies the hub. A facility that was essentially meant for rural folk was located in urban areas where farmers would rarely tread. Then, city folk would hardly venture into a multiplex located in a building from whose ground floor agricultural produce and equipment were being sold.
“The decision of the previous government to set up four agro-malls was unsuitable as there is a huge difference in marketing of agricultural and industrial produce. Marketing of agricultural produce through agro-mall is not practical,” said Dhankar.
The government is considering converting these agro-malls into general malls. But the revenue generated through the malls would be utilized for the welfare of farmers, added the minister.
The malls have been in controversy earlier too.
A Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report in March 2013 had rapped the Haryana government for initiating work on the agro-malls without even finalizing the project reports and other details.
“The works were conceived and allotted without finalizing their actual requirements, detailed project reports, approved designs and drawings and assessing the complete scope of work,” the CAG report pointed out.
There was also lack of planning in formulating the projects and contract agreements as the main conditions of levying of penalty on account of non-completion of work in time and deduction of welfare cess were not incorporated in the contract agreements, it said.
Haryana, along with neighbouring Punjab, is a leading state in food grain production. It has seen the record arrival of nearly 5.6 million tonnes of paddy this season compared to a target of only 3.6 million tonnes.