Shillong, Feb 9 (IANS) The Meghalaya Right to Information Movement (MRTIM) Wednesday exposed what it termed a “wheat scam” worth crores of rupees after the Food Corporation of India (FCI) revealed that the state has been receiving wheat from 2008 but none of the fair price shops are distributing it.
Every month, the state receives its quota of 1,403 metric tonnes of wheat. A kg of wheat costs Rs.6.10.
“Where is this wheat going when the FCI has been supplying it to the state under TPDS (Targeted Public Distribution System),” leading RTI activist and MRTIM leader Micheal N. Syiem, who filed the RTI, said at a public hearing Wednesday.
“I have requested representatives from the state’s Food Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs (FCS&CA) department and also FCI officials for the hearing. Although the FCI sent its representatives, none of the state government officials from FCS&CA turned up,” Syiem said.
The MRTIM alleged that the wheat was directly sent to local mills here and was ground into flour and other items for sale in the open market. The practice has been on for years now.
FCI officials, who were attending the public hearing, said that the Meghalaya government would be in a better position to answer where the wheat was disappearing over the years.
FCS&CA public information officer P. Ch Sangma claimed in response to RTI queries that wheat was being distributed in those districts of the state where there was demand.
“Since tribal people’s food habit does not constitute atta (flour) in their diet, fair price shops don’t lift it from FCI and hence the non-availability,” Sangma said.
Syiem, moreover, pointed out that quality of rice and sugar in fair price shops was far worse than those lifted from FCI warehouses.
“The quality of rice supplied from FCI godowns is of ‘A’ category. However, those sold at fair price shops are not fit for human consumption,” he said, showing samples of PDS items supplied by the FCI.
Social organisations Wednesday said that similar complaints of poor quality rice, sugar being distributed at fair price shops have been reported from various parts of the state.
The MRTIM said that they would decide whether to initiate a criminal case against the state government after further discussion.