New Delhi, Feb 26 (UNI) The government is in A fix whether on or not to dilute Plant Quarantine norms fixed for the import of five lakh tonnes of wheat as none of the eight bidders could deliver stocks matching those parameters.
The tender, submitted by the international bidders to the State Trading Corporation (STC), were closed on February 20 after ten days, making it near impossible to make any concession in the quality parameters, official sources said.
From Agriculture and Food Minister Sharad Pawar had already made it clear that there was no possibility of diluting the norms, prescribed by the Department of Plant Quarantine after much consultation.
On the other hand, US and Austrain Wheat Board(AWB) are asking for waiving of some of the conditionalities on quality as these are not being met by the Indian domestic produce too.
The Australian Wheat Board(AWB), sources said, was ready to supply wheat stocks at the state of 179 dollars a tonne C&F (Cost and Freight) which enjoy an advantage in despatching to the Southern ports as the govenrment wanted to deliver import wheat to southern states only.
The bids floated on February 10 and already been evaluated by the STC, before forwarding the same to the Food Ministry for taking the final view.
If the lowest rate reportedly quoted by the AWB gets through, the imported wheat will cost the country at more than Rs 900 a quintal while the Minimum Support Price (MSP) being given the local farmers wheat harvest next month will be Rs 650 per quintal.
In a reply to rate a pointed question by opposition members in Rajya Sabha on Friday, Mr Pawar, however, evaded direct reply whether the imported wheat would cost more that what the MSP rates given to the domestic farmers.
Already agitated over the government's decision to import wheat, the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) held protests in wheat producing states of Punjab, Haryana and Western UP demanding that the government should revoke its decision of importing wheat.
The imported wheat would land in India from next month to May when the country would have already procured more than 16 million tonnes of wheat.
India is expecting a crop of 72.3 million tonnes of wheat, slighly higher than that of last year.
UNI JSS PA RN1223