The Hindu: Karnataka: Monday, April 03, 2017.
RTI activist Bhimappa Gadad says irregularities amount to Rs.23 crore.
Questions have been raised on the prices at which certain commodities have been procured by the State’s Department of Food and Civil Supplies for distribution to beneficiaries under the Anna Bhagya scheme, with an RTI activist alleging irregularities in the same.
Bhimappa Gadad, of Gokak, has claimed that there were irregularities to the tune of Rs.23 crore. However, department officials argue that procurement had been done in a completely transparent manner.
Quoting information obtained under the RTI Act, 2005, from the department and public documents and agriculture-based websites quoting prices for various commodities in open markets and Agriculture Market Produce Committees, Mr. Gadad said at a press conference here recently that a total 2,10,468 quintals of “highly substandard” green gram was purchased from National Commodity & Derivatives Exchange Limited (NCDEX) for a sum of about Rs.12.653 crore in February and March this year. He alleged the department paid an average price of Rs.6,012 per quintal, which was much higher than the average prices that range from Rs.3,800 to Rs.4,500 per quintal in open markets.
Considering a minimum difference of Rs.1,000 per quintal between vis-à-vis average procurement and market prices, the department has paid Rs.21.04 crore over and above the market prices for green gram, Mr. Gadad alleged.
Price of sugar
Similarly, it purchased 88,320 quintals of S-30 grade sugar at Rs.400 per quintal kg and another stock of 16,900 quintals at Rs.4,300 per quintal, even though the price of better quality of sugar was only Rs.38 in markets. The price difference of Rs.500 per quintal indicates that about Rs.2.37 crore more was paid for the procurement of sugar.
However, N.C. Gangadhar, Senior Deputy Director in the department at Bengaluru, categorically rejected the allegation stating that all procurements were made in a transparent manner through e-tenders from NCDEX, a professionally managed online multi-commodity exchange in Mumbai.
Mr. Gangadhar told The Hindu that tenders for green gram and sugar were issued during November-December 2016 and commodities were purchased through e-tenders at e-prices from NCDEX as per the prices that prevailed on the day of purchase on condition of door-delivery. The procurement prices included the cost of door-delivery where sugar was supplied in a 50 kg bag and green gram in 1 kg plastic bags.
He said the department was procuring commodities for PDS through the central e-marketing forum NCDEX with due permission from the government.