Misuse of Anna Bhagya scheme worries govt

Misuse of Anna Bhagya scheme worries govt

Misuse of Anna Bhagya scheme worries govt

Unholy nexus between officials, fair price shop owners and rice traders at work.

Close to four months after implementing its flagship Anna Bhagya scheme under which rice is sold at Re 1 per kg for below poverty line families, the fear of large-scale misuse of highly-subsidised foodgrain is worrying the State government.

The Food and Civil Supplies department, it is learnt, has received feedback from its field officers that large quantity of rice being supplied under the scheme is sold back to the department. And it is suspected that a mafia involving the department officials, fair price shop owners, rice traders and middlemen is at work. 

The government, which is falling short of foodgrain requirement to implement the scheme, has been buying rice from traders through the online trading of National Commodities and Derivatives Exchange Ltd (NCDX).  

The scheme requires 2.46 lakh metric tonne of rice every month, but the State’s quota from the Centre’s Public Distribution System (PDS) is only 1.73 lakh MT per month. The rest is being bought by the State from various sources, including NCDX.

The Karnataka Food and Civil Supplies Corporation, which is a State government undertaking, has bought about 14,000 MT in September and 17,000 MT in October from NCDX at rates ranging from Rs 22 to Rs 24 per kg.

Official sources said the mafia is diverting the Anna Bhagya rice by generating fake bills at fair price shop level. The shop owners involved in the scam are generating two bills – one the fake bill that is issued to the beneficiary and another, official one, for record. 

The beneficiaries in many cases are not provided with full quota of rice, but for record it is shown as full quantity. Besides, the mafia is said to be making full use of the availability of large number of bogus ration cards to divert foodgrain. 

The cases of misuse of Anna Bhagya rice have been received from Belgaum, Mysore, Hassan, Hubli and Tumkur, and the department has cancelled the licence of close to 100 fair price shops so far for misusing the scheme. 

Levy rice

The department, as a result, is planning to discontinue buying rice through NCDX. So is the reason the government has decided to collect its full quota of levy rice from rice mill owners. The government is entitled to collect 13 lakh MT of rice annually at about Rs 22 per kg from the rice mill owners under the PDS. 

Directions have been issued to rice mill owners to provide about five lakh MT of rice between November and March – the coming harvest season. 

When contacted, Harsh Gupta, Food and Civil Suppies Commissioner, said he does not rule out diversion of foodgrain, but the operation of the mafia has not come to the notice of the department. “We have been receiving reports of misuse of diversion and stringent steps are being taken curb them,” he added.

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