Sale of illegally procured paddy, rice plugged: Minister

Chandigarh, December 4: In a late night operation at Barnala, the Punjab Food Supply Department’s Vigilance Team caught 6 trucks carrying paddy and rice coming from other States, to be illegally recycled into Punjab Mandis. This nab takes the total seizures tally to 5.03 lac bags, in the ongoing Kharif Marketing Season, informed Mr. Bharat Bhusan Ashu, Food and Civil Supplies Minister Punjab.

Punjab Food Supply Department is maintaining constant vigil and all attempts of recycling other States’ rice into Punjab mandis have been thwarted by our officers, claimed the Minister and informed that so far in various raids during the past two months, 18865 Metric Tonnes of paddy/ rice have been seized.

Giving details of the latest catch, he said that 3000 bags of paddy/ and rice were seized in Barnala, which were being transported from other states as five trucks of paddy and one truck of rice.

Sharing the preliminary investigation, he said that the these trucks belong to a trader from Barnala who brings paddy on low rates from other States on the name of two fictitious firms namely Star Agro and Kisan Trading Company and sells the paddy / rice to Millers of Punjab and also to artiyas for further sale in mandis of Punjab, on MSP rates.

FIR has been lodged in Dhanaula police station against these firms for bringing and selling unaccounted paddy and rice in Punjab from other States. Such firms even do not pay market committee fees as on the inter State border they present bill and market committee fees has to be paid at destination but since the Firms are fictitious, they never report sale or purchase of paddy or rice at the destination. They strike a deal with the buyer and sell unaccounted thereby evading the market committee fees. On the hand, the buyer shows the paddy purchased as a produce sold in mandi in name of farmers and pocket the difference between MSP and rate on which paddy is purchased from such traders which may range from Rs 300 to 600 per quintal.

In a similar operation, a few days ago, one truck of Star Agro was caught being off loaded at 2am in Salem Tabri Mandi, Ludhiana while two trucks sped away from weigh bridge outside the mandi when the truck in Salem Tabri Mandi was caught. During the operation on Thursday, a Nakka was put on Ram Nagar and Devigarh border in Patiala. On both these borders 5 trucks of paddy and rice were stopped coming to Punjab and two of them belonged to same trader of Barnala whose trucks were caught in Barnala and FIR lodged.

“We will not lower the guard till the entire procurement operation is over,” asserted the Minister.