Meghalaya CM refutes allegations of scam in NFSA rice supply

It was informed that the FCI had sent the rice under a wheat-based nutrition programme to the Social Welfare department.
By Daiaphira Kharsati | SHILLONG: 

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma, on Monday, refuted the allegations of corruption in the supply and distribution of foodgrains under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) stating that it was a “big mistake or misunderstanding”.

He said that the seizure of one lakh bags of rice, made by Assam police recently, was not part of the NFSA rice as the state has already received the quota of rice. 

“We have already received the entire amount in advance for the month of May and June and there is no question of this rice lying there and there is no tag that it is Meghalaya rice,” Sangma clarified. 

As per the verbal report he received, the chief minister said that the rice was meant for the Social Welfare department.

Meanwhile, Social Welfare Minister Kyrmen Shylla said that the department is on the job to collect information from suppliers to verify the allegations regarding the seizure of one lakh bags of rice of the Food Corporation of India (FCI).

Speaking to a section of the press, Shylla said that there is an allotment from the FCI to the Social Welfare Department meant for Anganwadi centres and distributed to children or beneficiaries. 

It was informed that the FCI had sent the rice under a wheat-based nutrition programme to the Social Welfare department.

“We are trying to find out what exactly happened. We are trying to find the facts. On our part, we do not want the rights of beneficiaries to be misused. We have nothing against suppliers but we want to know the truth,” the minister said.

Furthermore, Shylla informed that the department will seek clarification from the Director on the matter. 

The Director of Social Welfare D.D. Shira informed that the department is awaiting official letter from the concerned I.O/Assam Government for enquiry and further appropriate action against the supplier.

In a statement issued here, Shira clarified that the Government of India allocates rice under Wheat Based Nutrition Programme (WBNP) to different States.

The Directorate of Social Welfare allocated the rice to the approved manufacturer (Continental Milkcose Ltd) which was lifted from the FCI godown. The manufacturer then processes it into a variety of ready to eat fortified food products in the factory which is supplied to the Anganwadi Centres under the Nutrition Programme.

He said that the suppliers are to take a certain amount of rice from the FCI for fortification. "The suppliers take the rice to Gurgaon, Delhi for fortification and after processing, they bring it back to Meghalaya," Shylla added. 

He said that there are no issues with the suppliers adding, “If we find that they are doing something wrong, the department will sit and then decide."

The minister informed that the rice was not supposed to be sent to Guwahati but Delhi. "What makes them stop there? We from the department have never kept track of them as concerning fortification,” he said.

The suppliers are given the liberty to decide on the process of loading and unloading. 

Earlier today, the Khasi Students' Union (KSU) had demanded an independent enquiry into the alleged scam and punitive action against those involved in the scam. 

Speaking to reporters, KSU general secretary Donald Thabah said, "We demand an independent enquiry and to take punitive action against those involved in the scam. If the government fails to do so, we will take our own course of action."

According to media reports, recently, Assam police raided the godown of Maruti Quality Products Pvt Ltd (MQPPL) and the police found that the FCI rice was repacked by MQPPL into East Sunrise brand, which is a part of Continental Milkose India Ltd and supplied to Assam Rifles.

(Edited by Ibankyntiew Mawrie)

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