By P.T. Bopanna
A massive scam has come to light, close on the heels of Karnataka overtaking Kerala as the leading producer of pepper in the country.
Reports said the Agriculture Produce Market Committee premises at Gonikoppal in Kodagu (Coorg) district was being used to adulterate cheap contaminated pepper imported from Vietnam with premium quality pepper grown locally to make a killing in the market.
The reports said a couple of Bengaluru-based firms were importing huge quantities of pepper contaminated with high pesticide residue from Vietnam, routed through Sri Lanka to save on customs duty as India has signed a free trade agreement with Sri Lanka.
The issue has taken a political colour with the local Congress leaders alleging that the office-bearers of the APMC, controlled by the BJP, were hand-in-glove with the traders. The BJP has hit back saying that the Congress was trying to gain political mileage from the issue.
The scam has impacted on the price of pepper being produced in Kodagu which has nose-dived in the recent months.
The Union commerce ministry should immediately intervene in the matter and black-list the traders involved in the scam. The Karnataka government should supersede the APMC, if it was proved that its office-bearers were involved in the fraud.
Indeed, this ought to have been nipped in the bud at the right outset. Of course, even now, it is never too late…
Dear Bopanna, meanwhile, you would rendering a yeoman’s service by letting the public know, if this concoction of pepper is sold under any brand name or only pepper seeds are being pushed in the market. And which is this lobby of traders from Bangalore?