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Anomalies to fore at 1,075 fair price shops in UP

PDS Scam:  Owners of these shops will be made accused in multi-crore irregularities

Updated: Sep 19, 2018 13:56:46

By HT Correspondent

The probe into the scam revealed that the subsidised rations meant for underprivileged people were siphoned off and sold at high rates in the open market by owners of fair price shops in 39 districts across UP. (Representative image/Getty Images)

Owners of at least 1,075 fair price shops in the state were likely to be made accused in the multi-crore public distribution system (PDS) scam of the food and civil supplies department, said UP Special Task Force (STF) officials.

The probe into the scam revealed that the subsidised rations meant for underprivileged people were siphoned off and sold at high rates in the open market by owners of fair price shops in 39 districts across UP by misusing Aadhaar numbers of people.

FAKE TRANSACTIONS
Initial probe brought detected anomalies at 1,075 fair price shops out of 8,522 shops in urban areas of 39 districts. Around 859 people whose Aadhaar numbers and thumb impressions had been used to do fake transactions, 500 computer operators and over 150 food and civil supplies inspectors were also likely to be made accused in the case, he added.

A senior food and civil supplies department official, who is coordinating with the STF in the probe, said initial probe brought to fore anomalies at 1,075 fair price shops out of 8,522 shops in urban areas of these districts.

Moreover, around 859 people whose Aadhaar numbers and thumb impressions had been used to do fake transactions, 500 computer operators and over 150 food and civil supplies inspectors were also likely to be made accused in the case, he added.



The official said as per the figures available, the anomalies were detected at over 12.5% fair price shops across 39 districts while verification of transactions in some other districts was still to be done.

He said a rough estimate suggested that nearly 3.5% of the transactions were fraudulently done in July. The figures of April, May and June were yet to be verified, he emphasised.

“We have prepared a detailed advisory after analysing the modus-operandi and it will forwarded to investigation officers (IO) of over 200 cases registered across 43 districts of UP,” said a senior STF official.

The advisory will include what points IOs have to cross-check while investigating the matter. Some of the points included – listing the number of Aadhaar numbers used in fake transactions at each fair price shop, ascertaining involvement of computer operators and supply inspectors in the process, he said.

“All IOs are advised to investigate the cases on the same lines and inform the STF about whereabouts of the accused after secretly verifying their locations,” he stated.

He said the arrests of supply officers will be made only after collecting concrete evidences against them and the recommendations will be made to food and civil supplies authorities for their suspensions and other departmental action. The charges of corruption would also be slapped against supply officers, if their involvement is proved, he added.

STF field units had so far arrested seven people, including three from Lucknow on Sunday and four from Noida on Monday. The arrested people included three fair price shop owners and four computer operators, said the official.

Initial probe had revealed that rations worth over ₹40 crore were siphoned off through fake transactions in four months – between April and July this year. The STF investigation had also revealed that the scam was a result of a nexus of some food and civil supplies officers, contractual computer operators, fair price shop owners and some outsiders.

Thousands of quintals of food items (wheat and rice) were siphoned through lakhs of fake transactions of rations using Aadhaar numbers of non-beneficiaries against the name of real ration card holders. During an initial survey of 55 lakh urban ration card holders, irregularities were found in 43 districts.

Significantly, the fraud has been committed in cities where point of sale devices (PoS) had been installed at all ration shops. Under the PoS, which are now being installed at rural PDS shops also, a beneficiary is given ration only after his thumb impression, as given on the Aadhaar card, is verified. He said the maximum anomalies were detected in Allahabad district followed by Meerut, Ghaziabad and Lucknow.

First Published: Sep 19, 2018 13:56:46

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