Paddy scandal: Bihar pushes murder probe,plugs procurement loopholehttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/web/paddy-scandal-bihar-pushes-murder-probe-plugs-procurement-loophole/

Paddy scandal: Bihar pushes murder probe,plugs procurement loophole

The Bihar government Thursday ordered the Aurangabad district administration and the police to speed up the probe into the suspected murder of Rafiganj block extension officer Nand Kumar Gupta.

The Bihar government Thursday ordered the Aurangabad district administration and the police to speed up the probe into the suspected murder of Rafiganj block extension officer Nand Kumar Gupta.

Gupta was responsible for procuring paddy at a centre in Rafiganj and was found dead under mysterious circumstances last September after a shortfall was discovered in his paddy stocks.

Although it was initially suspected that he had committed suicide,a murder case was registered against unknown persons,as reported by The Indian Express Thursday. However,the probe has not made much progress with the police not been able to get even the viscera report to conclude if it was a murder or suicide.

A senior police officer at the police headquarters said fresh instructions had been given to Aurangabad police to get the viscera report and prepare a supervision report.

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Officials said that the state government has also done away with the Rs 50,000 security amount rice mills have to deposit to be eligible to get paddy to process from the Bihar State Food and Civil Supplies Corporation Ltd (SFC).

Instead,the SFC has left it to millers to decide the security amount they can deposit and they will be given paddy worth that amount,officials said Wednesday. The Rs 50,000 deposit that had been set for procurement in 2011-12 was seen as a major flaw and allowed mill owners to get paddy worth up to Rs 15 crore.

As reported by The Indian Express this week,the SFC is staring at a loss of Rs 535 crore after mills that were given paddy defaulted and did not supply the rice they owed the state government company.

The decision to change the deposit norms was taken at the start of the 2012-13 procurement season earlier this year,officials said. “We have also not disbursed paddy in one go like last year. This ensures the state government always enjoys a upper hand over the miller,” said a senior SFC official.

Mill owners too welcomed the move and said only those with capital could afford to get government paddy to process.

“We have taken several corrective measures much before the media could find fault with the system,” Food and Consumer Protection Minister Shyam Rajak said. “When we started paddy procurement in 2011-12,we had little experience and inadequate storage capacity. We had to give paddy to millers in one installment as we could not have stored it. We have proposed to increase the number of SFC godowns substantially in a year or two. We are even planning to start our own mills to process paddy.”