Those in charge of godowns of Punjab State Civil Supplies Limited (Punsup) on Thursday locked almost all godowns and handed over the keys to the corporation head office here.
The crisis in the corporation has deepened as the wheat procurement season has begun and the work in Punsup, which procures about 20% of the wheat in the state, has come to a standstill. The state government has set a target of procuring 110 to 120 lakh tonnes of wheat in the current season.
A fortnight ago, the district managers of Punsup had moved on an indefinite mass leave and were followed by the subordinate staff, alleging high-handedness on the part of corporation managing director PS Shergill. All attempts to placate the staff failed as according to them they were being penalised for no fault of theirs.
About 250 inspector-level officers, in charge of storage and distribution, assembled at SAS Nagar on Thursday, collected keys of all godowns and distribution centres in a bag and a five-member delegation reached the head office to hand over the keys to Punsup chairman Ajay Pal Singh Meerankot. The chairman tried to pacify the staff, but to no avail. Despite repeated attempts, the Punsup chairman was not available for comment.
Locking of godowns and distribution centres means no wheat would be stored even if it is procured by the corporation by an alternative arrangement. Shutting of distribution centres means the state government can’t run its atta-dal scheme as wheat and dal are supplied to the depots by these distribution centres.
The employees on indefinite mass leave include district managers, deputy district managers, field officers, inspectors, public distribution clerks and accounts department workers. According to the district managers, the problem triggered after the department forced them to procure basmati variety 1509 in the previous kharif season in the absence of any set system in place and later they were charged for improper handling and storage of the paddy. Most district managers either face suspension, chargesheet or heavy recoveries.
Directions by food and civil supplies secretary Raj Kamal Chaudhary to Shergill to sort out the matter 10 days ago yielded no result.
Shergill moves on long leave?
Sources in Punsup said MD Shergill had moved on leave for about a month. Reportedly, it was after food and civil supplies minister Adaish Partap Singh Kairon had pulled him up for “creating chaos” in the corporation. Shergill was not available for comment.