“There would be zero tolerance towards irregularities and corruption and the officers would be held fully accountable for their work”, said Mr Bharat Bhushan Ashu, Food and Civil Supplies Minister Punjab. Taking serious note of the alleged irregularities and the laxity towards duty by the Food and Civil Supplies officials, he made it clear that ‘every penny of public money spent and every grain procured is to be accounted for ’.
He was presiding over a review meeting with the officials of the department at Anaj Bhawan, Chandigarh.Assessing the wheat procurement, Food and Civil Supplies Minister informed that RMS 2018-19 records a bumper crop arrival in the mandis approximately to the tune of 127.13 lakh metric tonne which is the second highest wheat arrival in a decade while the all time high was 129.34 LMT in 2012-13.The bumper crop and the fast arrivals to the tune of 9 lakh metric tonne and at times even 10.50 LMT per day during the peak RMS posed a serious challenge to the government towards ensuring timely purchase, lifting and storage. Inclement weather added to the challenge.
Despite all odds and an acute space crunch, cent percent purchase has been made till date and 99% of the purchased stock has been lifted from the mandis. There has also been the prompt release of payment worth Rs. 19209 crore to the farmers through the commission agents of the State. Efforts are afoot to liquidate the rice stocks lying in the godowns and make room for the maximum of the lifted wheat to be put in covered, safe storage.Reviewing the paddy milling status, Mr Bharat Bhushan Ashu directed the department to ensure that after the milling, the entire stock of rice is handed over to FCI by May 30.Later, Mr. K.A.P. Sinha, Principal Secretary Food, impressed upon the officers to reconcile their accounts with respect to MSP, dami, loading, transportation and labour costs so that the pending payments may be released and discrepancies if any, be resolved at the earliest. He also asked the officials to be on vigil against attempts of fictitious billing being made by certain unscrupulous elements.