Amid protests from vegetable merchants over tax raids, the I-T department has unearthed unaccounted money over Rs 7 crore from Punjab based wholesale vegetable merchants, an official said on Wednesday.
The money was unearthed by authorities during a survey conducted last week to check commodity hoarding in the wake of soaring onion prices.
"About Rs 7.25 crore has been surrendered by (wholesale) vegetable merchants in Punjab during the survey operations conducted last week," Income Tax (Investigation wing), Additional Director, BK Singh told PTI In Chandigarh on Wednesday. The I-T sleuths unearthed a whopping Rs 4.25 crore as undisclosed money from a single vegetable merchant in Amritsar while Rs 1.25 crore from Ludhiana based traders and Rs 1.75 crore from Jalandhar based traders.
The department is still investigating the records of wholesale traders to ascertain the mismatch between physical stocks of goods and stocks maintained in accounts books. "It will take a little time before the final report (about the surveys) is out and it will throw light on what modus operandi was adopted by the vegetable traders for hoarding commodities," sources said.
Department officials, however, asserted that it was very difficult to completely control hoarding of agricultural products. Neverthless, they said survey operations do help in curbing tendency of hoarding among traders.
Income Tax department swooped down on vegetable merchants in Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Chandigarh, Faridabad and Jammu and Kashmir simultaneously on January 6. "The details regarding operations conducted in Chandigarh, J&K and Faridabad are awaited," official said.
Expressing anguish over the Income Tax surveys, vegetable traders in Punjab had accused the I-T officials of harassing them by carrying out raids on them. "We are being harassed by the Income Tax Department unnecessarily…we are not hoarders as we do not build vegetables stock as we dispose them of to our customers as and when we get the supply," said an Amritsar based trader.
Significantly, despite IT survey operations, onion prices continued to rule high at Rs 55-60 per kg in Punjab and Chandigarh. They had come down to a level of Rs 40-45 a kg, courtesy import of onion from Pakistan. But the price of the vegetable again shot up when Pakistan imposed a ban on onion exports.