GUWAHATI, Sept 2 � Major irregularities in the public distribution system (PDS) in Assam resulted in deprivation of the poor people of their due and only recently two major irregularities came to light during investigations by the Bureau of Investigation of Economic Offences (BIEO) of the Assam Police. But the cases detected by the BIEO are only a tip of the iceberg as it is not possible for the agency to look into all aspects of the system and cases are taken up only against specific allegations and tip-offs.
BIEO sources told The Assam Tribune that recently, officials of the agency detected a case of misuse of kerosene meant for distribution through the PDS to poor families for adulteration of diesel. Sources said diesel and kerosene worth more than Rs 51 lakh were seized and further investigation is on.
Giving details of the incident, sources revealed that acting on a tip-off, BIEO officials raided a petrol pump of the Darrang Industrial Corporation at Rangapara in Sonitpur district on August 28 and seized 35,000 litres of diesel and 8,839 litres of kerosene meant for distribution through the PDS. Sources said the petrol pump used to lift petroleum products from the Betkuchi depot of the Indian Oil Corporation and adulterate it with kerosene. Moreover, the depot supplied diesel to the tea gardens in violation of the rules. During the raid, three tankers of diesel with the seals opened, were found at the depot.
The owners of the depot were not only responsible for adulteration of diesel and selling the same to the tea gardens, but were also responsible for depriving the poor people of the kerosene due to them. It may be mentioned here that such incidents are taking place at a time when the State is facing an acute shortage of kerosene and the State Government has been pressurising the Centre to increase the allocation of kerosene for distribution through the PDS.
The BIEO has already written to the Deputy Commissioner, Sonitpur for sealing the depot and the samples collected have been sent for tests.
Meanwhile, in another incident, the BIEO seized more than 3,682 quintals of wheat and 125 quintals of atta worth around Rs 40 lakh from a godown in Morigaon district. Sources revealed that acting on an allegation that the wheat meant for distribution through the PDS was being sold in the open market, a BIEO team raided the godowns of the Foorkan Roller Flour Mill in Maorabari area and seized the items. The owner of the mill, instead of supplying it to the fair price shops and cooperative societies for distribution among the poor people, was involved in selling it in the open market. It may be mentioned here that the price of wheat in the open market is more than double the price in which the item is sold through the PDS.