In an unprecedented step, the Maharashtra government has cancelled the licence of Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company (Mahyco) to sell 12 varieties of Bt cotton hybrids for allegedly giving false information to agriculture department officials on seed supply for this kharif season.
The office of the Controller and Director, Commissionerate of Agriculture (Inputs and Quality Control) said on Wednesday the action was taken under the Maharashtra Cotton Seed Rules, 2010.
On May 31, the government issued a show cause notice to Mahyco, asking it to explain the alleged black marketing and hoarding of seeds and not giving correct information on seed supply for the kharif season.
A top official from the Inputs and Quality Control department told The Hindu that as the company failed to submit detailed information at the district level, Bt cotton MRC 7351 packets could not be distributed properly this season. This led to unrest among farmers. Road blockades rasta roko in Yeola, Nashik and Beed led police to lathicharge farmers.
Owing to Mahyco action, Bt cotton seeds were sold at a higher price in the black market. A first information report (no.3022/12) was lodged against the company at the Beed police station on June 1 for cheating and criminal breach of trust.
The official said after giving Mahyco a chance to reply to the show-cause, the department decided to cancel the licence. The company would not be able to sell any variety of its 12 Bt cotton hybrids in the State. The licence cancellation was permanent but the company can appeal to the Commissioner of Agriculture.
Allegations of hoarding
In the last kharif season, the company said it would make available 10.56 lakh Bt cotton seed packets and provided 10.66 lakh packets. However, this season, the number of packets made available declined to 6.50 lakh packets. When the government asked it to explain, Mahyco couldn’t answer properly and it put the blame on production issues. The government said Mahyco had, in reality, supplied 8.50 lakh packets, about 2 lakh above the stated amount. The excess went to dealers and sub-dealers who sold them for higher price.
Official sources said the government had a day-to-day sale report and it was clear that Mahyco gave false information.
In April, the government filed cases of cheating and criminal breach of trust in 18 districts against Mahyco for failing to deliver the promised quota of a single variety of Bt cotton seeds during the 2011 kharif season.
In its reply to the show-cause, Mahyco, on June 15, said it had submitted district-wise and product-wise sales plan in January and again in March.
It asserted it had not violated the licence agreement and the Maharashtra Cotton seeds (Regulation of Supply, distribution, Sale and Fixation of Sale Price) Act, and had complied with all the rules.
The company, when contacted, said, “Mahyco has not received any official communication from the government pertaining to the matter of its licence to sell Bt. cotton seeds in the State.”