Teams of Gujarat State Civil Supplies Corporation Limited (GSCSCL) and National Agricultural Cooperative Market-ing Federation (NAFED) of India Limited continued their quality check on 24,000 bags of toor dal (pigeon peas) in a godown in Visavadar for the second day on Monday, following allegations of malpractices in its procurement.
The checking of bags of toor dal lying in the yard of Visavadar Agricultural Produce Market Committee began on Sunday after Congress MLA of Visavadar Harshad Ribadiya staged a dharna outside the office of the district collector of Junagadh. He claimed that stock procured by the government was adulterated and demanded that a police case be filed.
“We have requested him to wait till checking is complete and its report comes,” Junagadh District Collector Sourabh Pardhi told The Indian Express. “If the report indicates any malpractice, we will take action.” He said that the quality check was being done in the presence of the media. “The entire process is being vidoegraphed.”
However, Ribadiya wrote a letter to Governor O P Kohli asking why a police complaint had not been filed even five days after he led a public raid on the stock of toor at Visavadar APMC.
He wrote that those responsible for procuring toor at at minimum support price had breached the trust of the government by engaging in scams and had robbed the state exchequer of crores of rupees. Concrete action had not been taken against those responsible, he said.
“Recently, the government had assigned to various government officers the duty of procuring toor. Without worrying about their personal safety, farmers and their leaders conducted a public raid in Keshod tauka of Junagadh and drew attention of the administration. A police case has been registered in this regard. We had also conducted a public raid on toor procurement centre of Visavadar and found that 70 per cent of the stock was substandard,” Ribadiya wrote.
However, GSCSCL managing director Manish Bhardwaj rejected the allegation of malpractices at Visavadar. “After the malpractices came to light from Keshod, we decided to check the stock procured at Visavadar centre. The MLA alleges that produce from farmers was not procured. But we cannot procure produce that does not meet our parameters. We are checking each and every bag there to double-check the quality,” Bhardwaj told The Indian Express.
The GSCSCL has procured 2,700 tonnes of toor worth around Rs183 crore from around 20,000 farmers of the state during the current marketing season on behalf of NAFED. The GSCSCL had opened 93 procurement centres in 27 districts of Gujarat to procure the popular pulse variety at an MSP of Rs 5,675 per quintal.
Incidentally, GSCSCL deputy manager for Junagadh district, Natha Mori, had filed a complaint at Keshod police station in Junagadh district on April 24 after an enquiry revealed that a few private individuals and staff had entered into a criminal conspiracy to pass off substandard beans as those of good quality. The scam came to light when NAFED rejected a batch of stock procured by the Keshod centre.
Based on that complaint, police booked seven persons, including the centre in-charge for criminal breach of trust, cheating and criminal conspiracy.
The police on Saturday also raided the agricultural field of Bharat Vaghasiya, one the accused, in neighbouring Mendarda taluka and seized 750 bags of toor from there. “Their modus operandi was to purchase toor from others at cheap rate and then sell the same stock to the government at the MSP, which was higher than the market rate,” said Jayveer Gadhvi, Deputy Superintendent of Police of Keshod division.
However, police said that nobody was arrested in connection with the Keshod case till Monday evening.