DW BUREAU / Chandigarh
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stop the GI tagging of 13 basmati producing districts of Madhya Pradesh as it will adversely affect other Basmati producing states in the country, including Punjab.
In a letter to the prime minister, Amarinder urged him to immediately direct the Ministry of Commerce to drop the idea of issuing Geographically Indication (GI) tag for the 13 districts for which Madhya Pradesh has sought inclusion in the list of regions eligible for GI tagging of Basmati. Terming it an economically and socially important issue, the chief minister said with 2 lakh Punjab farmers engaged in Basmati cultivation, the move to include Madhya Pradesh in GI tagging could have a negative effect on the agriculture of the state. He further wrote that it might also have an impact on other regions such as Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi, Western UP and two districts of Jammu and Kathua in J&K, which are already GI tagged.
The percentage of the total exports of the state includes a substantial amount of Basmati, he further observed in support of his argument. The chief minister pointed out that he had written a demi-official letter to the then Union Minister of State for Commerce on April 18, 2017 highlighting Punjab’s concerns, but the issue did not appear to have been resolved. Seeking the prime minister’s intervention, he stressed the need for early resolution and status quo to be maintained on the issue. Amarinder, in his letter, further said that as per the Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, a GI tag can be issued for agricultural, natural or manufactured goods that have given quality reputation or other characteristics attributable to its geographical origin, thus constituting a very important form of intellectual property. A GI registration gives the registered proprietor and authorised users the legal right to the exclusive use of the GI, and no unauthorised person can use the tag, he said.
The chief minister further contended that Basmati trials by ICAR are conducted only in the traditional area of Basmati in the Indo-Gangetic Plains in northern India.