Chandigarh, November 20
The Vigilance Bureau (VB) probe into the alleged Diwali paddy scam, sudden glut of arrivals in mandis on November 12, found discrepancies in records of only four out of 42 grain markets.
It was alleged that 4.7 lakh metric tonnes of paddy had arrived in mandis on Diwali.
- At Jhordan, 16,000 sacks of paddy were shown purchased, however, produce was found lying in the open
- At Lodhiwal (Sidhwan Bet), 1,18,983 sacks of paddy were shown purchased in records on November 12
- At Moonak and Lehragagga, excess arrival of 900 and 1,981 metric tonnes was shown, respectively
‘Closure of mandis led to panic’
- Panic among farmers due to closure of 730 mandis by the state government before Diwali led to situation
- Instead of mandi board staff, arhtiyas were hired to maintain records of paddy arrivals and purchase
The investigation, including physical inspection of records, and questioning of officials and arhtiyas revealed that high arrivals were witnessed due to panic among farmers over closure of more than 730 grain markets by the state government ahead of Diwali. Later, the state government had reopened several markets.
The VB’s findings are opposite to the allegations levelled by Gurkirat Kirpal Singh, Secretary, Food and Civil Supplies Department, who alleged that higher arrivals on a government holiday suggest bogus entries or paddy arrivals from other states.
In a complaint to the VB, the Secretary stated, “Unprecedented paddy arrivals — 4.7 lakh metric tonnes — were recorded on Diwali. This clearly points to an attempt by unscrupulous elements to recycle paddy and book fake purchases.”
The VB found that instead of mandi board staff, arhtiyas were reportedly hired to maintain records of paddy arrivals and purchase.
A total of 44 VB teams checked records from November 14 onwards. The four grain markets where the discrepancies were found include Jhordan (Hathur), Mandi Lodhiwal (Sidhwan Bet), Lehragagga and Moonak (Sangrur).
At Jhordan (Hathur), 16,000 sacks of paddy were shown purchased, however, the paddy was found lying in heaps in the open. Alteration/ cuttings were found on the record register. The purchase was closed but records said procurement was done without physical inspection of the produce.
At Lodhiwal (Sidhwan Bet), around 30,000 sacks of paddy were purchased in 28 days (October 14 to November 11). However, on November 12 (Diwali), 1,18,983 sacks of paddy were shown purchased in records. Cuttings and alterations were also detected in the registers.
At Moonak and Lehragaga grain markets (Sangrur), excess arrival of 900 and 1,981 metric tonnes was shown, respectively.
Meanwhile, there was speculation that the complaint had not gone well with the state government. It was feared that due to the alleged scam, the Centre, which pays for the paddy procured through the Food Corporation of India (FCI), may delay or withhold the payment.
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