Bhopal: Who sold pulses worth crores in name of farmers?

Narsinghpur: Despite state government’s solemn protestations of making agriculture a profitable business and the digitalisation of the entire process of procurement of farm produce at MSP, the woes of farmers of the district seem to be unending.

Thousands of farmers are still waiting for the payment for their produce sold at procurement centres, even as the administration is immersed in probing how thousands of tons of pulses were sold at the Tendukheda Krishi Upaj Mandi by bogus farmers. Neither the local officials nor the probe team, which has reached here from Bhopal, is ready to say anything on record.

In at least half-a-dozen districts of the state, including Narsinghpur, the quantity of pulses sold at MSP was much higher than the total estimated production of the district. A senior officer based at Jabalpur informed the government that rules were openly flouted while in the procurement of pulses at Tendukheda Krishi Upaj Mandi. Immediately, a three-member team probe was dispatched to Narsinghpur from Bhopal. It was discovered the scam may be worth crores of rupees.

The team pored over documents provided by the farmers and questioned some persons and left the place without revealing their conclusions, if any. Now, another team has arrived from Bhopal. On August 8, the district administration issued a notice inviting members of the public to submit any information or evidence in their possession regarding the procurement before the probe team.
The terms of reference of the probe team have not been made public. And it is not clear as to how and why information and evidence are being sought from the public, when the entire record of the sellers, including their names, addresses and the area cultivated by them are available with the Krishi Upaj Mandi. Can’t the probe team simply scrutinise the records and find out which of the sellers were genuine farmers and which were bogus?

Not the first time

This is not the first time when irregularities have surfaced in procurement of farm produce in the district. In 2015-16, a similar scam was reported in the procurement done at Krishi Upaj Mandi, Gadarwara. At that time too, probe was ordered and the guilty were identified. But the report of the probe seems to be gathering dust in some obscure government office. No one was punished. Obviously, that must have emboldened the scamsters and the same kind of scam was scripted in the Tendukheda Mandi this year. Sources say that if a through probe is made, similar irregularities may come to the fore in the Gotegaon, Narsinghpur and Kareli Mandis too.

People’s reps keeping mum

What is interesting that the people’s representatives of the district, who raise a storm over any and every small social or political issue affecting the commoners, are maintaining a stoic silence on the mega scam. It seems that they are convinced that the productivity of agricultural land in the district has, overnight, witnessed a quantum jump, with the result that the produce sold was many times over the expected production, calculated on the basis of the sown area and average productivity.

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