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Centre incurs huge loss due to cotton fire

S. Harpal Singh

Most of the cotton destroyed was purchased by the Cotton Corporation of India


Losses incurred in Wednesday’s fire put at Rs. 14 crore

There were 90 fire accidents involving cotton this season




Picture of Devastation: The Rs. 13 crore worth cotton bales that were destroyed in fire at CWC godowns recently.

ADILABAD: The numerous incidents of cotton fire this season in Adilabad district and elsewhere have left the Union government poorer by a few hundred crores of rupees as almost all the destroyed property belonged to the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI). These incidents also point towards the futility of the minimum support price (MSP) operations of the CCI that is ill equipped either to process the produce or store it.

Cash benefit favoured

Industry observers in Adilabad opine that the Union government could have directly accorded cash benefit to the cotton farmers instead of going through the rigmarole of the MSP operations. The quality of cotton that the CCI is ‘forced’ to purchase will suffer loss when the final accounts flow in. The destruction of the produce through fire incidents will apparently increase the losses, they point out.

CCI’s Adilabad branch has the maximum impact on the national exchequer because it has witnessed a dozen fire accidents of the 31 in the entire Southern region. Wednesday’s incident at the local Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC) godowns has become the worst of such fire ‘accidents’ in the country as the loss is put at about Rs. 14 crore.

Investigation

This latest in the string of incidents of cotton fires has only helped draw the attention of law enforcement and other agencies towards the ‘menace’. Investigations have been launched into the incidents of fire in the district in general and the CWC one in particular.

Tardy operations

The CCI, which has already been taking flak for its allegedly tardy purchase operations in the district, is at the centre of what looks to ultimately lead to a political controversy. With elections round the corner, political parties have already started seeking action against the guilty that includes the CCI, marketing and CWC functionaries.

CCI’s Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) D.C. Sagar visited the CWC godowns on Thursday with the intention of gaining an insight into the issue on hand and generally motivating the officials of Adilabad branch of the CCI. He said the country has had 90 incidents of fire so far this season that involved cotton purchased by the CCI.

The Northern region accounted for 18 and the Central for 41. Six fire incidents were reported each from Warangal and Guntur and seven from Hubli in Karnataka besides a few other minor ones.

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