Bangalore: Not even one of the six proposed food parks in Karnataka, which were to be operational by last December, has started.
The state government had invited bids in September 2004 for the setting up of these food parks to try and give a boost to the processed food industry under a public-private partnership model.
The state government even floated a special purpose vehicle, Food Karnataka Ltd (FKL), to manage the setting up of such parks.
FKL now says that only two of the parks are likely to be completed by mid-2008, even as the government and private entrepreneurs blame each other for the delay.
Under the Food Agro Technology Parks scheme, the Central ministry for food processing industries as well as the Karnataka government were to provide funding of up to Rs4 crore each, with the private partner investing the rest of the project cost, which varied between Rs16 crore and Rs18 crore.
The six parks were to come up in different agro-climatic zones of the state, such as Malur, Bagalkot, Maddur, Hiriyur, Jewargi and Belgaum.
Each of these parks were expected to have at least 20 food processing units with the park itself providing the grading, salting and cold storage facilities.
Sobha Nambisan, managing director of Karnataka State Industrial Investment and Development Corp. Ltd, who is also the chairman of FKL, says the Malur and Hiriyur parks would be ready by March and June, respectively.
“The physical infrastructure, like buildings for two other parks at Jewargi and Bagalkot, should be in place by the end of 2008 even if they are not completely operational,” she added.
The other two parks, in Maddur and Belgaum, are in limbo. The Maddur project, which was to be implemented by Karnataka Breweries and Distilleries Ltd (KBDL) is stuck in a legal battle because FKL cancelled the bid, citing delay in infusion of funds.
However, K.M. Srinivas Murthy, director of KBDL, blames FKL for the inordinate delay in land acquisition, which, he says, stymied the project. KBDL is also implementing the Bagalkot project.
“We have placed orders for all machinery and pre-fabricated buildings,” he said. “If one project is put off, the cost of the other will escalate.”
Says S.S. Patil, president of the Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and whose company, Rayalaseema Concrete Sleepers Pvt. Ltd, is implementing the Jewargi and Belgaum food parks: “Unless we are given more concessions, it will be difficult to implement.”
Nambisan counters saying that since the food parks are a new concept, “the private companies are only having teething problems. We are confident that the parks will take off.”