Company fails to deliver promised quota of Bt cotton seed variety
For the first time, the State government filed cases of cheating and criminal breach of trust in 18 districts against Maharashtra Hybrid Seed Company (Mahyco) for failing to deliver the promised quota of a single variety of Bt cotton seeds in the 2011 kharif season.
Official sources said before sowing last year, Mahyco had accepted bookings from dealers and retailers for 16.76 lakh packets of MRC 7351 variety Bt cotton seeds but delivered only 9-10 per cent of what was assured. The company could only produce 9.88 lakh packets of this variety in the country. Of this, it proposed to make available an estimated 2.22 lakh packets to Maharashtra as per its supply plan. However, till June 28, 2011 the company only managed to provide 1.91 lakh packets to dealers in all the cotton-growing districts. The seeds, priced at Rs. 930 per packet of 450 gm, sold in the black market for Rs. 1500 to Rs. 3000.
“The company did not keep its promise to dealers and as a result, there was large-scale hoarding and the prices shot up,” official sources said. They pointed out that MRC 7351 was very popular and much in demand.
As a result of several complaints from dealers, the State government sought legal opinion and filed cases under Section 420 and 406 in the courts in Aurangabad, Jalna, Beed, Nashik, Dhule, Jalgaon, Nandurbar, Nagpur, Ahmednagar, Chandrapur, Nanded, Parbhani, Latur, Amravati, Yavatmal, Buldhana, Washim and Wardha. Three of these cases have come up for hearing, official sources told The Hindu. Section 406 invites three-year imprisonment in addition to a fine while Section 420, attracts seven years in jail in addition to a fine.
Asked to respond, Mahyco, in an email statement, said that it had given an undertaking to the Department of Agriculture to provide 10,56,750 packets of various hybrids of Bt cotton seeds for the 2011 season. The seed supply had not only been met but exceeded the quantities as indicated in the affidavit filed with the department. The seed allocation is based on the seed availability with the company, post seed collection and quality checks.
“Mahyco is a law-abiding company and since its inception, [it] has continually strived to provide high quality seeds for improving the productivity and profitability of all farmers. However, this issue has been taken up legally by the authorities to which the company is responding appropriately. As the matter is sub judice, we are unable to comment on the same,” the company said.
Mahyco did not respond to the specific complaint of shortage of MRC 7351. This year, government officials said the company planned to supply 6,50,000 packets of Bt cotton seeds for the State.