Commerce Minister Anand Sharma on Tuesday termed Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's comments on reversal of cotton export ban as "not responsible" and said the government needs to protect interests of the farming community as well the industry.
Yesterday, Modi had said that the notification issued by the Union Commerce Ministry on reversal of ban of cotton exports is cheating lakhs of cotton-growing farmers.
"The notification says that the Centre will not give any new registration certificates for export of cotton. Not only that, it would also investigate the export of the commodity earlier...This new monitoring system will open doors to corruption," Modi had said.
On March 5, the Centre imposed a ban on cotton export on but had to withdrew the decision yesterday following protests from Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Congress Party's Gujarat and Maharashtra units.
Modi, too, had written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Reacting to Modi's comment, Sharma said: "The CM's comment is unfortunate and it will create panic in mandis and farmers...It is strange that the government is being criticised and questioned on that decision. The statement which comes from Gujarat CM is unfortunate and is not a responsible statement."
Sharma, who also holds charge of Textiles Ministry, alleged that Gujarat, a major cotton producer, has not been participating in the meeting of Cotton Advisory Board (CAB).
"Gujarat as a large cotton producer should give its inputs to CAB. I have been informed that in the last 5 years, Gujarat has not been represented in any meeting of CAB," he said.
Sharma said the government is bound to protect farmers interest, but it cannot overlook the need of the industry. He informed that the Cotton Corporation of India have been asked to buy cotton to prevent any distress sale by farmers.
India is estimated to produce a record 340 lakh bales (170 kg each) of cotton in 2011-12 crop year (July-June). The country has exported 95 lakh bales, an all-time high, in the first five months of the current marketing year that started in October 2011.