The much-publicised Atta-Dal Scheme (ADS) of the Punjab government has come in for questioning by the government auditor CAG.
In its latest audit report, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India said as much as 5.52 lakh tonnes of wheat worth Rs 648.69 crore (for the period of 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10) meant for the Centre's Above Poverty Line (APL) scheme was diverted to ADS by Punjab's food and civil supplies department.
The SAD-BJP government had launched the ADS in March 2007 to provide 35 kg of wheat and 4 kg of dal (pulses) to poor families at subsidised rate of Rs 4 per kg of wheat and Rs 20 per kg of dal.
However, the quantum of wheat and dal was reduced to 25 kg and 2.5 kg per family, respectively, in 2009, the report said.
"In violation of (Centre's) instructions, director food and civil supplies & consumer affairs (DFSC), Punjab intimated district controllers/ Punjab State Civil Supplies Corporation Ltd (PUNSUP) to divert the wheat allocated by the Government of India for the Above Poverty Line families to ADS," the auditor observed.
According to the Centre's public distribution system order 2001, the state government should not divert the allocations made by the central government for the distribution of commodities such as rice, wheat, sugar etc.
Further, Food Corporation of India also instructed state authorities that the allocated quantities of foodgrains from the central pool may not be diverted to any other scheme.
The report further observed that the Punjab government did not seek the approval of the Centre before diverting wheat meant for APL to ADS.
Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh has said the ADS was one of the factors for the victory of SAD-BJP combine in the recent assembly elections.