Kerala

UDF alleges graft in raw cashew purchase, seeks probe

UDF alleges graft in raw cashew purchase, seeks probe

Published:20 June 2019

The opposition Congress-led UDF Thursday demanded a vigilance inquiry into the alleged corruption and irregularities into the import of raw cashew nuts by the state-run department and staged a walkout as the Left government refused their demand.

Thiruvananthapuram | The opposition Congress-led UDF Thursday demanded a vigilance inquiry into the alleged corruption and irregularities into the import of raw cashew nuts by the state-run department and staged a walkout as the Left government refused their demand.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala alleged that there were large-scale irregularities in the purchase of cashew by the Kerala Cashew Board and corruption in the functioning of the Kerala State Cashew Development Corporation limited and the Kerala State Cashew Workers Apex Industrial Co-operative Society (CAPEX).
The CPI(M)-led LDF government had purchased raw cashew from Mozambique, a south-east African country.
"Low quality cashew, lying dumped in godowns, was bought by the state. There was corruption behind import of unwanted cashew. Besides, it had taken two more months to bring the consignment to Kerala from Mozambique.
By this time, the price of cashew had crashed in the international market," he said.
Though the CAPEX managing director Rajesh had warned that the purchase of the low quality cashew would cause a loss of Rs 17.5 crore, it was ignored, Chennithala alleged.
"Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan should be ready to order a vigilance inquiry into the corruption and irregularities into the import of raw cashew nuts," he said.
Stating that the cashew industry was reeling under grave crisis, the Congress leader said over 40 state-run cashew units were closed, leaving thousands of workers, majority of them women, jobless.
Besides this, over 700 private cashew factories were also not functioning, he said, adding that three small scale private cashew factory owners had ended their life in recent days due to the continuing crisis in the sector.
"Over 3-4 lakh labourers are working in the cashew sector in the state.The LDF government had come to power promising jobs to cashew workers throughout the year," he said.
"You (LDF) had also promised that you would take over the private cashew factories if voted to power. But, not even a single such factory had been taken over in the last three years," Chennithala said.
The Cashew Board was formed by this government to avoid intermediaries and purchase raw nuts directly from foreign countries but the government failed to implement it effectively, he alleged.
However, J Mercykutty Amma, state Minister for Fisheries and Cashew Industries, refuted the charges and said the government had purchased cashew nut as per the prescribed norms and guidelines.
She also said the government was committed to ensuring more working days to cashew workers and the chief minister would soon conduct a meeting with various stakeholders to resolve issues.
With Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan rejecting a notice for an adjournment motion over the issue, moved by Congress legislator Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, and chief minister their demand for vigilance probe, the opposition staged a walkout.


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