SAD smells a rat in 4.7 LMT paddy arrival in Punjab markets on Diwali

Sukhbir Singh Badal demanded a CBI probe into sudden influx of paddy in the state.

SAD smells a rat in 4.7 LMT paddy arrival in Punjab markets on Diwali

Representational Image [Photo : IANS]

Punjab on Diwali, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Wednesday demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into sudden influx of paddy in Punjab.

Over 4.7 lakh metric tonne (LMT) of paddy arrived in several grain markets in the state on Diwali.

“Farmers know that procurement comes to a standstill on Diwali because the procurement staff and Arhatiyas (grain commission agents) are not present in Mandis on this day,” he said.


The SAD chief said despite this, 4.7 lakh metric tonne of produce were procured on Diwali. “It is clear that either paddy has been recycled to book profits or arrivals have been procured from outside the state,” added.

He said since this could only be done with political patronage the case should not be probed by the State Vigilance and should be handed over to the CBI so that the truth could be laid threadbare.

The Punjab Vigilance Bureau has already launched an inquiry into an alleged paddy scam to find out how much of the paddy arrival was bogus. The VB teams have seized records regarding the arrival of paddy before and on Diwali from several grain markets.

The impact of the alleged scam is far-reaching. Under the procurement process, Punjab buys produce from farmers on behalf of the Food Corporation of India, which comes under the Central government. Later, the state claims payment from the Centre. The allegations of bogus paddy purchase may cause problems in the process.

The secretary, Food and Supply Department, Gurkirat Kirpal Singh  on Monday said the pattern of paddy arrival in the past few days points to serious discrepancies as unprecedented arrival of 4.7 LMT has never been recorded on the festival day in the past since farmers are aware that staff, labour and arthiyas are unavailable.

“This clearly points to an attempt by unscrupulous elements to recycle paddy and book fake purchases,” he said.

Meanwhile, SAD also condemned the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government for closing down 1559 grain markets in the state despite the fact that paddy was still arriving in Mandis.

He demanded paddy procurement operations should be continued across the State till 20 November. “This government has discriminated against farmers from day one by refusing to pay compensation for crop losses and is now closing down Mandis arbitrarily leaving farmers in the lurch,” the SAD president said.

Badal said it was shocking that despite the fact that 2.91 lakh metric tonnes of paddy had arrived in Mandis yesterday, which was 18 per cent more than the corresponding period last year, the AAP government was closing down procurement centres.

He said a large amount of produce was yet to reach the Mandis due to delayed harvest due to rains. “Farmers who went in for re-transplantation of paddy after their crop was destroyed due to floods in July are also yet to bring their produce to the market. The government should close down the procurement centres only after the entire produce has been procured”, the SAD leader added.