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Centre welcome to run quality checks, watching if it’s hidden agenda: Ashu

Punjab Food Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu said that the raids were nothing new for Punjab. “There were similar checks conducted in 2004 and 2010 too. If these raids are also like the earlier process, then we have no objection.”

Written by Kanchan Vasdev | Chandigarh |
January 29, 2021 10:59:59 pm
CBI raids in Punjab, Punjab latest news, Bharat Bhushan Ashu, Punjab Food Minister, FCI godowns, FCI quality check, Rural Development Fund, punjab agriculture, indian expressPunjab Food Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu. (Express file Photo by Gurmeet Singh)

Amid CBI raids on godowns in Punjab, the state government is watching whether the raids were a part of “hidden agenda” or the independent agency genuinely wanted to check the irregularities in quality of wheat and rice stocks.

As the CBI stated that they had received complaints and wanted to run the quality checks on the produce stored in the godowns, Punjab Food Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu said that they were not perturbed at the raids as the “Centre is most welcome to run the quality checks but if there was a hidden agenda to teach Punjab a lesson for the state opposing the Centre’s farm laws, we are keeping a watch.”

Ashu said, “They have told us that they are doing quality checks of the grains stored inside. They are most welcome to do so. Since the rice of central stocks are kept in FCI godowns and those hired by FCI, we have nothing much to do. We support them. But I want to tell them that the raids cannot hamper our milling process. If they do so then we will object. We need to finish with the milling of paddy by March 31 as we will have the wheat crop in April. We are already short on storage space. If they want to get back to Punjab for supporting the agitating farmers, then we will condemn the move.”

On a question that the raids were conducted in Haryana too, he said the raids were nothing new for Punjab. “There were similar checks conducted in 2004 and 2010 too. If these raids are also like the earlier process, then we have no objection.”

Ashu reminisced how the Centre was delaying Rural Development Fund (RDF) to Punjab levied on procurement of paddy. “They have been doing all this. Hence, we are watching quietly,” he said.

He said the CBI conducted raids on 40 godowns and took samples of stored grains pertaining to the procurement seasons of 2019-20 and 2020-21. The raids were conducted at 11 godowns of Punjab State Warehousing Corporation. These include five godowns at Khanna, four at Jagraon, one each at Mansa and Kapurthala. Others include those hired by PUNGRAIN agency situated at Patti, Fazilka, Ferozepore, Bathinda, Ajitwal and Lehra Gaga. The FCI godowns where the raids were held are at Dhuri, Rampura Phul, Ferozepore, Budhlada, and Tapa. Raids were also conducted on Central Warehousing Corporation godowns at Muktsar.

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