By admin       2017-12-08

MUMBAI: In a major action against faulty Bt cotton seeds in the state, the agriculture department has seized failed seeds worth 24 crore from an unnotified godown in Aurangabad. After department officials got a tip-off, the quality control cell of the agriculture commissionerate seized 2.84 lakh packets or 1,279 quintals of Bt cotton seeds produced by Green Gold seeds, which had either expired or were mixed with non-Bt seeds but were to be sold as Bt seeds. Green Gold is a leading company, with its seeds having a huge market in the state's cotton belt. The action comes at a time when the cotton crisis in the state has got worse, with nearly 50% of standing crop affected by the pink bollworm pest. Sources said when a company is given a licence, it has to specify the quantum of seeds it is producing and notify the godowns it will be using to store them. "The company did not notify the godown where the seeds were stored and the total production specified did not account for these seeds," said a source. The unnotified godown belongs to the Chikhli Urban Co-operative Bank, officials said, adding the bank has also given a pledge loan on the failed seeds, which is a violation. The state will soon initiate the process of registering an FIR against the firm and filing a court case for violation of the Maharashtra Cotton Seeds (Regulation of Supply, Distribution, Sale and Fixation of Sale Price) Act, 2009. "52 samples have been sent to labs for tests. Once we receive the report, we will take appropriate action," said agriculture minister Pandurang Fundkar. State sources said the firm's officials told them they had applied for extension of expiry date by six months for some stock and were to initiate the process of doing so for the rest of the stock. "If a firm's seed stock remains unsold in one season and if a lab certifies the quality of seed is good, the state can give an extension of six months," said a source. But officials said this argument may not hold here as the state had no record of these seeds.

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