Unaccounted money worth Rs7.25 cr unearthed from veg merchants

-T department has unearthed unaccounted money worth over Rs 7 crore from Punjab-based wholesale vegetable merchants.

Last Updated: Jan 12, 2011, 17:24 PM IST

Chandigarh: Amid protests from vegetable
merchants over tax raids, the I-T department has unearthed
unaccounted money worth over Rs 7 crore from Punjab-based
wholesale vegetable merchants, an official said on Wednesday.

The money was unearthed by the authorities during a survey
conducted last week to check commodity hoarding in the wake of
soaring onion prices.

About Rs 7.25 crore has been surrendered by (wholesale)
vegetable merchants in Punjab during the survey operations
conducted last week," Income Tax (Investigation
wing), Additional Director, BK Singh said here today.

The I-T sleuths unearthed a whopping Rs 4.25 crore as
undisclosed money from a single vegetable merchant in Amritsar
while Rs 1.25 crore from Ludhiana-based traders and Rs 1.75
crore from Jalandhar based traders.

The department is still investigating the records of
wholesale traders to ascertain the mismatch between physical
stocks of goods and stocks maintained in accounts books.

"It will take a little time before the final report
(about the surveys) is out and it will throw light on what
modus operandi was adopted by the vegetable traders for
hoarding commodities," sources said.

Department officials, however, asserted that it was
very difficult to completely control hoarding of agricultural
products, they said survey operations do help in curbing
tendency of hoarding among traders.

Income Tax department swooped down on vegetable merchants
in Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Chandigarh, Faridabad and
Jammu and Kashmir simultaneously on January 6.

"The details regarding operations conducted in Chandigarh,
J&K and Faridabad is awaited," official said.

Expressing anguish over the Income Tax surveys, vegetable
traders in Punjab had accused the I-T officials of harassing
them by carrying out raids on them.

"We are being harassed by the Income Tax Department
unnecessarily. We are not hoarders as we do not build
vegetables stock as we dispose them off to our customers as and
when we get the supply," said an Amritsar-based trader.

Significantly, despite IT survey operations, onion prices
continued to rule high at Rs 55-60 per kg in Punjab and
Chandigarh. They had come down to a level of Rs 40-45 a kg,
courtesy import of onion from Pakistan.

But the price of the vegetable again shot up when
neighbouring country imposed a ban on onion export.

PTI