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Raghbir Singh Brar, Hindustan Times
Kotkapura, November 18, 2013
District mandi officer (DMO), Faridkot, has issued show-cause notices to 130 entities (97 commission agents and 33 traders-cum-exporters) for alleged irregularities in procurement of basmati.
A commission agent at the Kotkapura grain market had complained that basmati was being procured without any competitive bidding here, a requirement under the rules.

The representatives of the firms have been called for a personal hearing at the office of Mandi Board secretary, Chandigarh.

Mandi board deputy general manager from Ludhiana circle, Harpreet Singh Sidhu, had visited the Kotkapura grain market to look into the complaint and allegedly found irregularities in the procurement process.

"The deputy general manager had visited the spot and my office had been asked to send a list of commission agents and purchasers, who had sold and procured basmati allegedly without any bidding. We had forwarded a list of 130 people, including commission agents and traders," said Kulbir Singh Matta, district mandi officer (DMO) Faridkot.

However, commission agents claim that that all basmati was procured under rules and nothing was done without bidding.

"There was bidding. There are around 40 purchasers-cum-exporters of basmati making procurement in Kotkapura grain market. It is not possible for all of them to go and inspects heaps of grain together for bidding and then buy the produce. They then formed groups and covered all commission agents in the whole market," said a commission agent, wishing not to be named.

"The market fee and rural development cess have already been abolished by the government. During this season, there has been no loss of any kind of market fee to the Mandi board and farmers have been getting good rates," he added.

Sources maintained that basmati was being procured without proper bidding.

"Initially, they used to buy the produce after bidding. Later, the practice was dropped leading to a loss to farmers as they failed to get competitive prices," sources added.

"About 3,67,000 quintal basmati has been procured from the Kotkapura grain market and after a dip in rate for a few days, rates have touched Rs. 4,600 per quintal on Monday," said Jaspreet Singh Gill, secretary, Kotkapura market committee.