Can as many as 130 trucks loaded with rice from Punjab for Kashmir never reach their destination and go “missing” in just one year 2015-16? Yes, nothing iffy about it, they can be manipulated as such when craft and conspiracy both work in unison. Special Audit Report Committee of the Government of India (Ministry of Food) with the intervention of the Prime Minister’s Office has exposed a scam involving the Food Corporation of India (FCI) whereby a net loss of Rs. 14.74 crore was caused to the public exchequer.
It has reliably been learnt that this multi crore food scam in Kashmir is just a tip of an iceberg and outcome of the “doings” of just one financial year. That such a type of malfeasance is suspected to be in operation for decades together can never be ruled out. The modus operandi has been as many trucks used to be “sold” on way to destinations with well knit official contractors (transporters) nexus and thus tax payers’ money plundered by employing such fraudulent means. Over 2000 trucks from Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab had been engaged by the state FCI Regional office authorities to procure rice and wheat from Punjab and Haryana. While rail freights are cheap, 80 percent supplies were “arranged” through trucks just to mint money and resort to organised loot. Dirty game of “commission” worth crores of Rupees has been pocketed.
Contrary to standing instructions from the GoI to the FCI to utilize cheapest mode of transportation, over 80 percent of supplies even up to Jammu and Udhampur were carried out through trucks and barely 20 percent by train. The cost of transportation per quintal through train is less than Rs.20 while by road it is between Rs 180 to Rs 200. As is wont with the network operated by cheats, an upright officer turned whistle blower along with two others were framed and charge sheeted while real culprits shielded. The whistleblowers were placed under suspension. The falsely implicated whistle blowers approached the PMO and FCI Headquarters at Delhi resulting in constitution of a special audit team which conducted an audit and submitted the report to the PM’s Office and the Union Ministry.
It is hoped that the findings of the audit committee and internal inspections as also the inquiry by the CBI shall be taken to the logical conclusions and stern action against the guilty taken on a fast track basis so that the same proves as a deterrent for others.