The Punjab Congress on Wednesday lodged a complaint with the state vigilance department to seek a first-information report (FIR) against chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and his cabinet for Rs 12,000-crore “food-grain scam”.
“The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have concluded in their reports that it is a case of misappropriating central funds and diverting stock,” former state Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Sunil Jakhar has mentioned in the complaint filed at the vigilance department’s Phase-8 police station here. The complaint says that the state procurement agencies — Punjab State Warehousing Corporation, Punjab Agro Food Corporation, Pungrain and Punsup — had provided CAG with the registration numbers of the vehicles that transport food grains; and of the 3,319 trucks that CAG had selected for random checking, it could not trace 3,232, while of the 87 traced, 15 had turned out to be scooters, motorcycles, and cars etc.
He said that of the 16 district offices of the Punjab agencies, seven had not given CAG the vehicle data for the years 2009-10 to 2013-14, while the other offices had released incomplete information about 41,033 vehicles related to 146 grain markets. “Even the RBI has asked banks not to give Punjab any credit for buying food-grain stocks under the MSP (minimum support price) system, as stock worth more than Rs 12,000 crore is missing from the state’s custody,” the complaint mentions.
Besides Badal and his cabinet, the Congress leader has also demanded action against the officials concerned and the heads of the departments involved in the “theft pointed out by two constitutional bodies of India”. The CAG and RBI reports corroborate each other and, prime facie, evidence exists to register a case, he has added.
“The Badal government begins its countdown to the jail yatra from here,” Jakhar told the media after taking along SAS Nagar legislator Balbir Sidhu and party leader Deepinder Dhillon to submit the complaint.
Jakhar works out math of ‘Rs12,000-cr scam’
Based on data from the CAG report and statistical abstracts published by the Punjab government, Congress leader Sunil Jakhar claimed that CAG’s audit of PAFC (Punjab Agro Food Corporation) accounts revealed that its outstanding dues had increased from Rs 1,160 crore to Rs 2,799 crore between 2011 and 2014; and an FCI (Food Corporation of India) notification of December 20, 2012, mentioned interest rate of 11.79% charged on the difference.
Consequently, the interest component turned out to be Rs 942 crore in three years and embezzled amount Rs 697 crore (2,799-942-1,160). “Taking the average MSP of wheat and paddy combined (2012-13 to 2014-15) to be Rs 1,320 per quintal or Rs 13,200 per metric tonne as in the statistical abstract of 2015, the total annual procurement of food grains by the PAFC was 26-lakh MT and per-year embezzlement by it 1.76-lakh MT, or 5.28-lakh MT in three years,” said Jakhar.
“The embezzlement percent per year at the PAFC was 6.87% of procurement and extrapolating this to total wheat and paddy procured in Punjab between 2010-11 and 2014-15, the figure turns out to be 83-lakh MT a year, Rs 10,956 crore over five years, and more than Rs 12,000 crore after including interest,” he said.