Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Roles of big fish in NFSA scam must be probed: RTI activist

Times of India: Surat: Tuesday, June 12, 2018.
The scam of pilfering foodgrain meant for the poor, using stolen biometric data of ration card holders and inclusion of bogus names as beneficiaries under National Food Security Act (NFSA), had not only exposed the vulnerability of the public distribution system (PDS) early this year, but also indicated involvement of several government officials.
Since January this year, when the scam was unearthed, 17 persons have been arrested. Most of them are either fair price shop owners or those working with the agency that was entrusted with the job of data entry of the beneficiaries. No government official has been so far been implicated in the case, neither has anybody’s name cropped up during investigation.
After initial arrests of those who leaked the biometric data and few PDS shop owners, police are yet to identify those who made top politicians and diamantaires NFSA beneficiaries.
Names of Surat BJP MP Darshana Jardosh and diamantaire Vasant Gajera were in the list of beneficiaries under NFSA. Under this act, wheat and rice are distributed among beneficiaries at Rs 2/kg and Rs 3/kg respectively and only families with financially poor background can get registered as beneficiaries.
“If the diamantaire and the MP didn’t went there to register their names as beneficiaries then who entered their names? Whether their names were put on the list with the approval of any government official? These aspects need to be probed,” said Ajay Jangid, an RTI activist who had exposed the scam.
“A number of wealthy families were in the list of beneficiaries under NFSA and foodgrain were issued in their names. Further, there are beneficiaries who do not exist at all but foodgrain are being purchased in their names too. This is not possible without involvement of government officers,” added Jangid.
Jangid had initially started a movement on social media on finding the shocking details based on which the district collectorate officials lodged complaints at eight police stations in January 2018. Based on these complaints, the crime branch made first arrests in February.
“I have instructed the crime branch officials to investigate the role of government officers, if any,” said city police commissioner Satish Sharma.