Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, November 19
A day after complaints of bogus procurement of paddy with the connivance of rice millers, traders and government officials cropped up at the Cabinet meeting, the authorities have launched a crackdown on the millers.
The authorities in Karnal, Kurukshetra, Ambala and Kaithal, the districts with the largest number of rice millers, have started keeping a close vigil on millers since Monday night to ensure that no stocks of paddy or rice comes out of or goes into the mills till a physical verification of the stock on their premises is completed.
In Karnal, Deputy Commissioner Vinay Pratap Singh confirmed having recovered PDS rice from some millers, though he didn’t elaborate its exact quality since the counting was still in progress. “Nearly 130 mills have been checked since last evening. We will do physical verification of all mills,” he added.
Kurukshetra DC SS Phulia informed The Tribune that 20 teams comprising officials of the Food, Civil Supplies and Consumers Affairs Department, Haryana State Agriculture Marketing Board, civil administration and a representative of the association of rice millers have been constituted to conduct the physical verification.This exercise would take four to five days, he added. Ambala DC Ashok Kumar Sharma also confirmed that the exercise has been started with the help of the police.
Virender Kumar, District Food and Supplies Controller in Kaithal, said a round-the-clock vigil was being kept to ensure that nothing comes out of the mills and nothing goes in till the verification was completed.
Sources said that 416 mills in Karnal district, 238 mills in Kurukshetra and 192 in Kaithal district besides some more in some other districts were on the radar of the government with complaints that they had siphoned off money from the state exchequer by ‘bogus’ procurement of paddy for custom milling of rice (CMR).
The complaints said the purchase was on paper alone so that the millers could supply rice (generally PDS rice) purchased from other states on lower rates when they have to deliver rice to the government.
Pankaj Agarwal, Director General of Food, Civil
Supplies and ConsumersAffairs Department, Haryana, confirmed that action had been initiated upon receiving directions from the government after yesterday’s Cabinet meeting.
“A meeting of the department was held today under the Additional Chief Secretary SN Roy where it was decided to constitute teams for conducting physical verification of the entire stock of rice millers across the state,” said Agarwal.
Sources said the issue was taken up by the Cabinet yesterday at the instance of Dushyant Chautala, Deputy Chief Minister, Haryana, who also has the portfolio of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumers Affairs.
“I will divulge the details of the complaint and the action contemplated by the government only at an appropriate time. But I will like to ensure everyone that if any matter of corruption comes to my notice, I will not let the guilty get away with it,” Chautala said when contacted by The Tribune.
Even last year, a scam involving ‘bogus’ procurement of paddy for ‘pushing’ PDS rice bought from eastern states was unearthed in Haryana when 1.25 lakh bags of rice were recovered from one miller and sacks of rice meant for the poor and bearing the mark of the Bihar State Food and Supplies Department were recovered during a raid at a rice mill in Karnal.
Mills under lens
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