Corruption in Food-Supplies Deptt

Not casting aspersions on the importance and the due place in democratic set up of popular Government in the State, nevertheless train of cases of corruption of different hues got surfaced during Governor’s (and now President’s ) rule in Jammu and Kashmir in a massive way. We do not hold that had there been a Government duly elected by the people in power in the State , these blatant cases of massive corruption to the extent of loot would have not come in the glare of the people taking umbrage of how the ‘Sarkari Khazana’ was caused to suffer losses of thousands of crores of Rupees by employing fraudulent and swindling means with the tools of treachery and deceit and thus breaching the trust of the people, but perhaps there would have been deficiency of administrative and political will in going whole hog against the perpetrators and cheats who were responsible for indulging in an organised loot.
We are pained to share with our readers , being our duty and commitment towards them, that in handling and transportation of food grains by the officials of the Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, Jammu and Kashmir during the last two decades, The state exchequer was virtually looted to the extent of thousands of crores of Rupees. Just last week through these columns we had brought into focus, as to how wilful delaying and evasive tactics were employed by the management of this sensitively important department in replying to the gross irregularities pointed out by the auditors of the Accountant General’s office in their audit report despite sending repeated reminders by them.
Two Directorates of the Food Supplies Department at Jammu and Srinagar were allocated around Rs.400 crore annually for handling and transportation of food grains and while doing this, the distance between the two capital cities was shown twice as much as actual and transporters were ‘paid’ double the amount for the same distance in Kashmir division. This being the main modus operandi, the excess amount paid was in fact the booty illegally earned by and shared amongst the concerned employees of the Department which went “unnoticed” by the top authorities all these 20 years but thanks to the audit by the AG’s auditors who blew the lid off and after a random audit of just 258 trips , it was found that excess payment between Rs. 106 to Rs. 1309 per trip totalling Rs. 1.10 lacs was made. In other 10 sample cases, audit worked out extra payment ranging from Rs.698 to Rs. 4474 per trip having been made. The audit has made other startling revelations ranging from utter mismanagement in financial affairs to absence of uniform system of trip and distance charges as also misusing and faulty utilization of public funds.
It would be in the fitness of things to conduct a high level enquiry into the entire fraud and recover the full amount of loss to the exchequer from the guilty serving as well as retired officials of the Department , from their assets in addition to file criminal charges against them. It is not only required urgently but would serve as a deterrent measure as well.