The Patna High Court asked the Bihar government on Tuesday to respond within six weeks to a PIL alleging a paddy scam in the state to the tune of over Rs 1,400 crore during 2011-12 and 2012-13.
The PIL filed by social worker and RTI activist Shiv Prakash Rai, convenor of voluntary group Nagrik Adhikar Manch, in January claims the Bihar food and consumer protection department allotted paddy to millers in violation of the ‘advance receipt of rice’ agreement norm.
The Indian Express had carried a series of reports during May-June 2013 showing how the state government stared at a loss of over Rs 500 crore for 2011-12 alone with millers failing to deposit government rice in FCI godowns on behalf of the state food corporation (SFC).
As per agreement norms, a miller has to deposit 67 per cent of rice in advance to receive paddy for processing. If a miller deposits 67 quintals of rice, for example, he is entitled to receive 100 quintals of paddy from SFC.
A state government has to engage private millers to process paddy to sell rice to FCI to meet its PDS requirements. But in over 95 per cent of cases the Bihar government disbursed paddy in one go against a security deposit of Rs 50,000 from each miller.
Most millers defaulted and did not give rice to the government even after extension of the deadline thrice.
Madhu Prasun Sudarshan, lawyer for Rai, said: “A division bench of Justices N K Sinha and Vikas Jain asked the Bihar government to reply within six weeks to our three prayers on irregularities in allotment of paddy to millers in gross violation of agreement norms.”
He said Nagrik Adhikar Manch had demanded “adequate and appropriate” investigation into the alleged scam. “We have also sought details of recovery of rice and action being taken or taken against millers. We want investigation by the CBI”.
Rai said the government had not yet fixed responsibility for relaxing agreement norms by violating the ‘advance receipt of rice’ clause.
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