There is much hype and debate about the Food Security Bill inside and outside the parliament. But the masses whom this bill covers are the people who are still waiting for the government supplied grains to come to them even under the current schemes. And hence it questions the credibility of the food security bill and whether it would be a success or a failure for the masses that it is meant to reach. Most likely it is just lip-service for votes and some copious amounts of election funding for the political parties in charge.
Before coming to the food security bill we must discuss that how the grains are brought for the poor masses and how it is supplied to them in the current “transparent system”. Let’s start from the very bottom from where the government procures these grains for distribution to the poor masses.
The Three Tier system of Government Food Grain procurement and Distribution
- Government (through its concerned nodal agency in every state) buys the paddy from the farmers through the PACS in every Panchayat during the crop season of Kharif and Rabi. Here in Bihar, Bihar State Food Corporation (B.S.F.C.) is responsible for the same.
- Then the concerned nodal agency sends these paddy for milling to the mills with whom it has made written agreements. For Kharif Crops the mills work on the ratio of 100:67 i.e. if 100 kg of kharif paddy are given to mills then they have to mill and return 67 kg of rice.
- After milling the paddy the mills are required to produce the grains to the Food Corporation of India (F.C.I.) and also inform its nodal agency B.S.F.C. of the same.
- After the grains reaches to the Food Corporation of India godowns then these are distributed in every districts and then is further sent to the all other godowns through B.S.F.C. situated in the block level from where the PDS receives it and then distributes it among the poor masses.
So this is the way in which the grains for the poor masses are collected from across the country through all the concerned nodal agencies who are answerable to the F.C.I. The amount of grains produced and then bought and supplied is maintained through the audit reports of all the agencies which is in the balance sheet for all to see.
But Does The Food Distribution System Work ?
My answer is No. Every day in the newspapers there are reports of the poor complaining against the PDS not supplying the grains allocated to them. I decided to research the root cause of this problem. I studied this system in-depth and unearthed a large scam. The system is full of failures and corrupt at every level. The food bill will bring additional large sums of money through the same system and the same corrupt people – no wonder then that they are salivating at the prospects.
Bihar, A Complete Paradise For The Corrupt
After working on the leads for around a year suddenly on 12th of July 2013 I achieved success as one of my sources informed me that the trucks loaded with the grains with registration numbers WB 03- 8508 and BR 23 G 1254 apparently for the Shahpur Block godowns carrying grains from the godowns in Ara were instead going to a private rice mill named Jai Mata Di in Diul Village of Jagadishpur block under Bhojpur district.
We were able to catch the guilty red-handed and even recorded the evidence. We informed the district administration of this racket. But instead of taking any action to recover the grains, the SHO at Jagadishpur attacked us brutally. We ultimately were able to lodge an F.I.R with the Jagadishpur Police Station giving details of the incident – a frivolous FIR was also lodged against us by the mill owner for robbery. (Details of the operation are available in video for those who are interested) . The SHO, Jagadishpur Police Station did not respond to our complaint but gave ample time to the mill owners to hide the truck loaded with the government supplied grains.
The reasons why the trucks loaded with government grains reached the private rice mills must be understood. For this please refer to the three tier working working system of the government as referred to above. The paddy which is bought from the farmers though the PACs is taken by the B.S.F.C. and given to the private mills for milling after a written agreement. But truth is something very different – the paddy which were given to the rice mills for milling are sold out prior to any milling. And if the physical verification of all the godowns is carried out in bhojpur district then the complete scene will be clear.
Now the paddy given to the rice mills have already been sold out – these rice mills don’t have any paddy left with them. Thus they are unable to give back the supposed grains to the F.C.I. It is here that they steal the trucks loaded with the grains and then change the sacks of these grains and again produce the same grains in front of the F.C.I., in a very organized way. This makes money in two phases – first by selling out the paddy and second by stealing and sending the same F.C.I. grains to the F.C.I for inspection and verification.
And for doing so they manage the Marketing officers of all the blocks, they manage the Assistant Godown Managers, the transporters, and even the PDS employees. So whenever an enquiry is done these people come out with their registers showing the amount of grains received and dispatched to the PDS. (the evidence of this part is sent in a audio clip where my source kamlesh is speaking to the F.C.I. manager Jeetendra Singh on mobile on 6th August 2013 @ 13 hours 6 minutes, the call made from 9430006453 to 9955996998) where the F.C.I. manager is clearly speaking that the grains meant for the small go-downs and for PDS are sent back to the F.C.I/by these mill people and the transporters.
Who Are The Perpetrators Of This Racket?
The main mafias of this racket are the Assistant Godown Managers, transporters who are involved in transporting these grains to the concerned godowns and rice mills. For every 100 quintals of grains the AGMs get Rs 10000, Marketing officers get Rs 10000 and transporters get Rs 15000 (in bribes/facilitation money/etc). (The figures mentioned here are given by the source on terms of anonymity.) The officers here in the block offices manage the records in their registers and hence the scam goes on unabated.
The AGMs even ask for bribe for allotting the paddy to the rice mills. The AGMs are supposed to give the paddy to rice mills as per the value deposited by them in the form of bank guarantees to the BSFC. But the AGMs sidelines the rule and instead allot the paddy to the mills who bribe them. (It is clear from one of the audio clips where the garhani block ÁGM is speaking to my source for allotting the paddy after taking a bribe of Rs 25000.)
It is not that no action is taken on rice mills, FIRs are lodged but no strict action is taken to stop this malpractice. CAG has clearly mentioned in its report that about 30 percent of grains is lost every year due to poor storage. But it has forgotten to mention that from the remaining 70 percent of grains about 25 percent more is sold out illegally in the open market.
This is Part 1 of my findings – more follows.