Days after a confrontation between Punjab and Centre on the issue of distribution of foodgrains under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY), the state government has returned at least 45 metric tonnes (MT) of dal (black lentils) to Centre, after it was allegedly found infested with fungus, laden with bird excreta and was giving out a foul smell.
The dal was distributed to beneficiaries, who raised strong objections. The state government had to then recall it from the beneficiaries in Mohali district of Punjab, test it and then send it back to Centre.
The government has not only returned the dal to the Centre but also ordered an inquiry against the officials of Food Department, who received the delivery without checking the quality and also sent it further to be distributed.
A few days ago Union Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan had tweeted to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh stating that Punjab had distributed
only 1 per cent of foodgrains sent to the state under the PMGKAY scheme. To this CM and state’s Food Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu had retorted by saying that Centre was late in sending the dal by over a month.
The latest row has erupted after the state recently returned 45 MT of dal, which was distributed in Mohali, after finding it unfit for consuption.
“We received a complaint from Deputy Commissioner, Mohali, Girish Dyalan that the dal was not fit for human consumption. We got it checked and found out that it was infested with fungus, had pigeon droppings and it emanated stench. We recalled the dal given to all beneficiaries and have returned it to Centre now,” said Anindita Mitra, Director Food, Punjab.
Dyalan told The Indian Express that he received a complaint from a beneficiary. “When our team went to check the dal, they found it was not fit for consumption. We then sent out team to all the beneficiaries where it was distributed. The administration had to do double the work and expose the employees to the contagion twice.”
Kirandeep Kaur, a beneficiary in Mohali, was the first one to raise a voice to which the district administration reacted and got her fresh stock of dal. “The dal was not even good for the consumption of cattle. The moment I opened the packet, I was not able to stand it. It had bad smell,” she said.
Mitra said the department has now ordered an inquiry to find out why the staff of state’s Food Department did not check the quality of foodgrains. “I have written to the Deputy Director to fix responsibility why staff was not vigilant. NAFED officials told us that the dal got spoilt because the truck was parked in the rain. But where did pigeon droppings come from?” she asked.
“We are now checking the quality of the dal. We have asked all the DCs to make sure only good quality dal was delivered,” she said.
As many as 10,800 MT of dal was sanctioned for the state’s 1.4 crore beneficiaries.
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