By Sandhya Ravishankar
On Tuesday, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) president and former Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami tweeted that 7000 metric tons of paddy was missing from the government godown in Dharmapuri.
His tweet in Tamil translates to:
“Every day the DMK government is fooling the people and now it has shockingly come to light that 7000 metric tons of paddy procured and stored in a government godown in Dharmapuri has gone missing.
When leaders of yore said that ants ate sugar and termites ate through the sacks, how are the leaders of today going to account for the 7000 tons of paddy?
This circus government’s Chief Minister who is sightseeing abroad on taxpayer money must take immediate action to punish those responsible for the missing sacks of paddy and take action to find the paddy and return it to the godown. This is my demand.”
When The Lede enquired with the district collector of Dharmapuri, K Santhi, she said – “A detailed inquiry has been initiated. As per our preliminary findings, 7000 MT is an exaggerated estimate. Out of 22,000 MT, 7000 MT has gone to rice mills. It appears that the packing of the paddy was not done properly due to labour insufficiency. We are taking all the rice bags to the hulling mill in the next three days and we will calculate the amount of paddy after that. A team from Chennai as well as our own officials are probing.”
Explaining further, she stated – “2952 bags can be arranged in one stack. But they have randomly put 3000 bags together in a stack. Out of 130 stacks, 8 are half-filled.The stack arrangement has collapsed and the paddy bags have fallen around. These stacks will be removed and the weight calculated, with the help of 100 labourers and 120 lorries.”
But confusion remains over how much paddy was procured and how much came into the godown.
The AIADMK smells a rat in the deal.
“The DMK government needs to come clean and show proof of how much paddy was actually procured and how much came into the godown,” said Kovai Sathyan, AIADMK spokesperson.
“If the government procured the whole 22,000 MT of paddy in reality but only 15,000 MT came to the godown, that means rice was diverted to the open market to favour some friends in the ruling dispensation. Diverting PDS rice means a lot of people will go hungry,” said Sathyan.
He also feels there could be another loophole in this equation.
“On the other hand, if the government had procured only 15,000 MT of paddy and someone marked it up by 7000 MT to pocket the difference, that is equally reprehensible. The state government needs to provide answers with proof to the people of Tamil Nadu,” he said.
The Minimum Support Price for paddy in the state varies from Rs 2040 per quintal to Rs 2060 per quintal depending on the quality.