Coir and Cooperation Minister G. Sudhakaran on Saturday came down heavily on Coirfed, saying the agency was being manipulated by a lobby operated by the private sector and that it was not following a government directive to procure fresh coconut husk to mitigate the coir fibre shortage in the State.

Speaking after laying the foundation stone for a Business Centre of the public sector unit Foam Mattings (India) Limited here, Mr. Sudhakaran said Coirfed had not so far procured fresh coconut husk despite the government directive since doing so would mean that vested interests of the private sector could not be catered to. The Coirfed was being manipulated by agents of the private sector, who were working overtime to weaken the public sector.

Pointing out that even in procurement of copra, there were no accounts available of how much Coirfed had procured. On the other hand, Consumerfed had procured 1,000 tonnes of copra so far. As for husk, a large quantity of the raw material was lying without any agency to procure it. The husk had also started to decay. A cooperative society that approached Coirfed to procure the husk was reportedly told that Coirfed had no business of procuring husk, the Minister said.

Even when coir fibre was available at a low cost, the lobby in Coirfed was interested in purchasing fibre at exorbitant costs from the private sector, he said, also pointing out that efforts by the present governing committee of the Coirfed to tackle this lobby were so far unsuccessful.

Coirfed had also failed in setting up a single de-fibering mill, though the government had set aside Rs.19 crore for the purpose, Mr. Sudhakaran added.

A.A. Shukoor, MLA, presided over. R. Nazar, District Panchayat president, P.P. Chitharanjan, Municipal Chairman, Coirfed president S. Bahuleyan, Coir Workers Welfare Fund Board chairman K.K. Ganeshan, Foam Mattings chairman K.R. Bhageerathan and managing director N. Sathyaraj also spoke.

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