FCS&CA supplies sub-standard ‘Atta’ in Jammu, no tenders called even after 4 yrs

A gunny bag of flour showing date of packing as 2016-17, which has been supplied in Jammu.
A gunny bag of flour showing date of packing as 2016-17, which has been supplied in Jammu.

CFS admits it is a criminal act

Gopal Sharma
JAMMU, Mar 13: Having supplied by the mills about two years ago, highly sub-standard flour (Atta) has been distributed by the Department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs (FCS&CA) in several ration outlets in Jammu city while over 26,000 quintals of sugar meant for public supplies, has been left to rot in the Government stores in Jammu for the last more than three months.
While the Food Safety norms suggested that grains after grinding in a mill and packed in bags should be consumed within maximum three months, but the Food Supplies authorities at Jammu ignoring the public safety and consumer welfare, allegedly supplied highly sub-standard stuff a few days ago. Majority of the consumers either did not lift the Atta or returned to the dealer while a very few may have consumed it despite the fact that it is giving foul smell.
In several Government ration outlets in Janipur, New Plot and Paloura areas such complaints have been received. The people have alleged that there are contents of sandy stuff in the Atta and moreover , it gives foul smell. They offered the stuff to the cattle as well but even the cattle left it unconsumed.
One of the dealers near JDA complex, Janipur when contacted by Excelsior correspondent, showed the stuff which was apparently found sub-stranded. It was also giving foul smell. In two more such outlets such stuff was there. It was found that there was no proper stamp of the Mill on the bags but the date of packing was apparently marked as 2016-17, thus indicating that after lying in stores for over two years, this supply has been offered for the public consumption by the Department.
Sources in the department said that about 28 private Mills have been engaged by the Department for grinding of grains for public supplies. They have also deputed an officer for monitoring the quality and quantity of public supplies. Moreover, for the over all supervision of the Mills an officer of the rank of Assistant Director (Mills) has been appointed.
But it has been learnt that with the nexus of some officials with the Millers, this malpractice is going on unabated. This lobby has become so strong that for the last four years, no fresh tenders were called by the department despite the fact that it is mandatory to have fresh tenders of grinding grains every year. Even, a single mill was not ever black -listed for wrong doings during this period.
Commissioner Food Safety, J&K, Dr Abdul Kabir Dar when contacted and asked whether Food Safety teams pay random visit to Government Food stores and private Mills from where public supplies worth lakhs of quintals are made every month, said, the Food Safety teams led by Assistant Commissioners/ Inspectors often pay visit to these premises and take cognizance of it. On being asked for how long Atta packed in bags is fit for public consumption as for Food Safety norms, the Commissioner said it should be supplied and consumed within maximum three months if properly packed and stored at safe place with no moisture contents there.
When revealed that public in Jammu has been provided food stuff having grinded and packed two years ago, Dr Kabir said, “ It is criminal offence. How can they do this. The Commission will take serious note of it and penalise the concerned officers for gross negligence. I will direct my officers immediately to seal the stuff and sent to the different labs for analysis.”
Commissioner/ Secretary Food, Civil, Supplies and Consumer Affairs, Dr Abdul Rashid, however, when contacted said he would hold immediate inquiry and blacklist the Mill supplying such stuff. Dr Rashid said if the officers concerned found connived and having failed to perform their job properly, they will also face action. He said a time bound probe will be held and tender process for this will also be reviewed.
Director FCS&CA, Jammu Jatinder Singh when asked why 26,000 quintals of levy sugar has been left to rot in the Food Stores in Jammu since December 2018, he said for this, he has written to the higher authorities for permission to dispose it off. He said the sugar supply to the consumers of all categories was stopped by the Govt from January this year. The department will take necessary action in this regard. The Director also assured strict action with regard to sub-standard Atta provided to the people in Jammu city.
Meanwhile, Jammu City Ration Dealers Association president, Prabh Dayal said that he received complaints from various dealers from Janipur and some other areas regarding very poor/ sub-standard supply of Atta and took up the matter with the AD Trade and Store and asked to lift the stuff as public has refused to accept.
He said in fact this supply was made on Saturday and majority of the consumers have refused to lift while many others were returning. 70 gunny bags of such Atta has been provided to a dealer in Janipur area. The Department has also stopped supply of 10 kg Atta bags despite popular public demand. He alleged that there was nexus between Millers and some key officials and moreover, no tenders were conducted by the Department for the last 4 years. The officers are giving extension every year to them for the reason best known to the people at the helm of affairs. Unless this nexus is broken, the things will not improve. He also said that the ration supplies to the ration dealers in Jammu should be made on the pattern of Srinagar city through Department owned vehicles.