On June 15, the Government of India refuted the claims that suggested the Food Corporation of India was involved in a Rice Scam in Assam and Meghalaya. As per the reports, Assam Police busted an alleged scam and seized one lakh bags of rice, weighing 50 KG each, from a private godown at Boko in Kamrup district. The rice was meant for Meghalaya. The New Indian Express published a report about the alleged scam and asserted that FCI officials could be involved in it.
MK Gogoi, Executive Director, Northeast, Food Corporation of India, visited DSF Khanapara to investigate the matter and submitted a report. It was found that the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India, had allocated 3098 MT Rice and 1094 MT wheat under the WBNP Scheme for Meghalaya State for the 1st quarter of the year during 2021-22 vide letter dated May 6, 2021. The authorities issued an order to lift the food grains on four instances in May and June 2021.
DM Shillong informed that the Director of the Social Welfare Department issues the food grains to approved suppliers for finished products like fortified rice, biscuits and other products. The Department concerned also informed that the said stock for the supplier was received.
The report further said, “During the visit to FSD Khanapara on 15.06.2021 to investigate into the veracity of the afore-stated media reports, it has been learnt that the said rice had been issued from FSD Khanapara to the nominated State Government of Meghalaya nominee under WBNP scheme as per extant rules and guidelines.” As the stock was issued, it is not possible for FCI to track the onward distribution under PDS or OWS by the nominee as the state is responsible for such tracking.
FCI’s involvement in the distribution was limited to the phase where the food grains were delivered to the state. After that, the state has to ensure that foodgrains are reaching the real beneficiaries. The report further added, “It can be concluded at this juncture that FCI has no role in the said alleged diversion of food grains and that the apprehensions of media regarding FCI’s involvement are devoid of facts and a manifestation of the lack of operational understanding of FCI’s role in PDS mechanism.”
What did The New Indian Express’s report say?
In its report, TNIE alleged the involvement of FCI in the food scam. They quoted Kamrup Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), Kalyan Kumar Pathak, saying, “A huge quantity of rice was seized, and we are going by the laws. We have written to the agency concerned. A response is awaited.” Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma claimed he had no information about the alleged scam. The CM said if such a huge quantity had gone missing, it would have come to the notice.
Reports by other publications
The alleged scam was initially reported by some local media houses. On June 12, The Shillong Times said that the Police unearthed the scam after locals reported the suspicious movement of 13 trucks in the area. It further added that the police learned that the said rice was repacked by Maruti Quality Products Pvt Ltd (MQPPL) into the East Sunrise brand owned by Continental Milkose India Ltd and supplied to Assam Rifles.
East Mojo quoted a police officer involved in the raid on the godown, saying, “We seized one lakh bags of FCI rice, each weighing 50 kgs, from the godown. The private company was repackaging the commodity in their own brand and then sending it to Meghalaya.” Deepak Agarwal, owner of MQPPL and the godown where the rice was found, is absconding.