Uttar Pradesh, Bihar PDS Rice Finds Way Into Punjab-Ashu
36000 Bags Amassed in 4 Mills
The Voice of Chandigarh News | Photo By T S Bedi
In a big catch here today, the Food and Civil Supplies Department seized 36000 bags of unaccounted rice from four mills in the Jalandhar and Kapurthala. The Vigilance staff of the department found that 16500 bags of rice at Shiva Rice Mill Phagwara, 3600 bags of rice at Jai Shankar Rice Mill, Jalandhar, 14100 bags of rice at Shiv Shankar Rice Mill Sarhali, Jalandhar and 1600 bags at Sawtantarta Rice Mill Dhilwan, Kapurthala.
Unraveling the shocking state of affairs, Bharat Bhushan Ashu Food and Civil Supplies Minister Punjab informed that the raids conducted by the Food and Civil Supplies Department on Wednesday has revealed that the unaccounted rice found in the godowns of four mills owe their origin to up Public Distribution System(PDS) of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. More appalling is the fact that there were certain bags of UP and Bihar Food Supply bearing the lot number of Punjab 2017-18 rice which were delivered to FCI for the central pool but after being sent to UP and Bihar for public distribution, they have been illegally circled back to Punjab. “Had the miller not been caught, the same rice would have been recycled into the current marketing system”, informed the Food and Civil Supplies Minister.
With Punjab government keeping a strict vigil on godowns and mills, it was found that the wrongdoers made a clever change in the modus operandi. Instead of keeping the stock in godowns they chose to offload the illegally procured rice in the crude cattle sheds in the villages. Such a case was unearthed at Ranipur village near Phagwara where 750 bags of rice were found stored in an animal shed. According to sources, this rice was offloaded from two trucks, about two days ago.
Fearing it to be the tip of the iceberg, Mr Ashu said that amassing thousands of bags of PDS rice is a clear indicator that it is not a small game; in fact with a similar scam has been unearthed in Haryana as well and it is apprehended that it is a big Inter-State Racket with nexus going deep into the procurement and distribution system of the country.
He said that although the bid to divert the ‘rice for poor’ into the Punjab market has been foiled by the Vigilance Officers of the department yet we are maintaining a complete vigil against such attempts. The recycling of previous year’s ‘rice for poor’ into the procurement mainstream is not just a deplorable act on humane grounds but also an economic loss to the State.