Tur scam in Maharashtra gets bigger by the day
MUMBAI CITY NEWS: Tur producing farmers in Maharashtra have been facing a crisis in the state after the record production. According to officials, around 50 lakh tonnes tur has been procured so far while the actual production this year has been five times more that of the previous yearmumbai Updated: May 23, 2017 23:00 IST
Last month, when authorities discovered 990 unclaimed bags of tur worth Rs50 lakh in Jalna, an industrial town in Marathwada, the government hinted that it may belong to traders. This was also the first indication of a larger scam involving government officials.
A month later, around 75 complaints were reported on traders purchasing tur from farmers at cheaper rates and selling it at the National Agriculture Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED) at higher rates. The Minimum Support Price (MSP) set for tur this year by NAFED was Rs5,050 a quintal, while traders bought the pulses from farmers at much cheaper rates — between Rs 3,500-3,700 per quintal.
After authorities confiscated the abandoned bags in Jalna, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said a probe would be conducted. However the investigation has still not begun even as activists allege malpractices in tur procurement.
“Traders and government officials have been misusing the system for their benefit. Farmers are suffering,” said Rajan Kshirsagar, an activist from Parbhani. Kshirsagar alleged that the tur confiscated in Jalna belonged to a trader, who purchased it from farmers at cheaper rates. When authorities got a whiff of it, he abandoned the crop.
Tur producing farmers in Maharashtra have been facing a crisis in the state after the record production. According to officials, around 50 lakh tonnes tur has been procured so far while the actual production this year has been five times more that of the previous year. Even as the government increased procurement centers, the stock was lying without purchase. This prompted the government to extend the deadline for procurement of tur for the third time in May, after farmers complained that their produce was yet to be purchased.
The latest deadline that the government has set for itself is May 31, although doubts prevail over if all farmers will be able to sell their crops.
Among those complaints include one against Shiv Sena leader and Minister for State for Dairy Development Arjun Khotkar, who is accused of selling 377 quintals of tur at NAFED center in Jalna. Khotkar sold 187 quintal of tur on February 14 while additional 190 quintal of tur on the name of his brother and sister-in-law was sold on February 18 at the same center.
Another complaint being probed by government is from Shegaon in Buldhana, where two directors of NAFED sold 250 quintals and 424 quintals, although they had 10 acres of land each on their family’s name. The two directors, Shreedhar Patil and Nalesh Rathi, are now under the scanner. According to agriculture experts, around five to six quintals of tur can be produced on one acre of land. “It’s almost impossible to produce 250 quintals of produce on 10 acres,” said an official from the district administration.