Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, November 21
The state government has decided to blacklist all rice shelling units, found involved in the bogus billing of paddy. This year, amid paddy getting allotted to different mandis across Punjab, the state government has already initiated proceedings against seven rice mills found involved in the scam.
The Food and Civil Supplies Department has withdrawn the paddy allotted to these rice mills in Moga, Mansa, Rampura Phul and Kharar for the current milling season, and initiating proceedings to blacklist them for the next three milling seasons too.
These rice mills, in connivance with officials in mandis, made fake purchases of paddy. The motive was to get milling charges (@Rs 10 per quintal) and transportation charges to give the custom milled rice back. Cheaper rice meant for public distribution system was bought from other states and passed on.
Some of these firms had even set up offices/trading firms in Delhi. These firms were purchasing cheap rice from Bihar, but the consignments were being sent to the mills in Moga. “By taking the GST number of both billing address firm and the firm actually receiving the consignment, we were able to bust the illegal practice. Further investigation is on,” said a senior functionary.
This illegal practice had been going for the past several years untill last year after a crackdown was ordered. An estimated 2.5 lakh bags of paddy bought from other states had been seized in a statewide operation launched last year.
The Vigilance team this year is also gathering information from transporters and truck drivers on who is buying rice from outside Punjab. Special nakas are being set up at all entry and exit points and even at dhabas frequented by truck drivers. “Once the rice reaches the mills, it can be immediately taken out from the bags and there is no way to know where it came from. So we are nabbing trucks before they reach the consignees,” said a senior official.
The staff in mandis have also been directed to send photos and videos of paddy lying in mandi to the district food supplies officer concerned.