Chandigarh: Punjab government has initiated an inquiry into non-delivery of rice worth over Rs 500 crore for the year 2011-12 by about 200 state rice millers to the Centre.
"We have started investigating why about 200 state rice millers failed to deliver 2.59 lakh tonne of rice valuing more than Rs 500 crore to Food Corporation of India (FCI)," a senior official of Punjab Food and Civil Supplies department said here.
After completion of investigation, Punjab government will recover the cost of rice from defaulting rice millers, if they are found engaged in any wrong doing. State will also take criminal action against them if they any malpractices or diversion is found, he said.
Punjab was supposed to deliver 77.42 lakh tonnes of rice to FCI for Kharif Marketing season 2011-12 period, but state millers could not deliver 2.59 lakh tonnes within scheduled time.
On the request of the Punjab government, the Centre had extended the delivery date for rice from June 30, 2012 till August 15 and later it was further extended to October 15. Thereafter, December 31, 2012 was set as the deadline.
"Rice millers in Punjab could deliver only 2.59 lakh tonnes of rice for 2011-12 period till December 31," FCI official said here.
The rice, which has not been delivered, belongs to state owned agencies including Punsup, Pungrain, Punjab state warehousing corporation, Punjab Agro Foodgrain Corporation and Markfed, official said here.
As per practice, state owned agencies purchase paddy from farmers on behalf of Centre and then give it to rice millers for custom milling and then rice converted out of paddy is delivered to FCI.
Some of rice millers even attribute the delay in delivery of rice for central pool to acute shortage of space for storing food grain and slow movement of wheat and rice out of state.
As a result of this, paddy was not allocated to about 700 rice millers out of total 3,600 rice millers in Punjab for 2012-13 period.
Punjab is a major contributor of foodgrain to the central pool as it has about 30 per cent share in country?s total rice procurement.