Shillong, June 14: Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma on Monday said the seizure of rice from a godown in Assam has nothing to do with the public distribution system (PDS) or COVID relief but was “meant for the social welfare department”.

“It has nothing to do with the PDS, nothing to do with the COVID relief that was given (to Meghalaya)…this is not part of the National Food Security Act (NFSA) or PDS system as the rice has already been received in advance for the month of May and June and is already in our godowns (for distribution),” Sangma told reporters.

He was reacting to concerns expressed by several quarters following the recent seizure of huge quantity of rice from a godown in Assam.

Sangma said there is no question of NFSA rice being there in Assam’s godown as there is no tag that says it is rice earmarked for Meghalaya.

“The NFSA rice which is meant for distribution has been received already in advance. There is no question of this being the NFSA rice or the rice meant for the public distribution system, there has been a big mistake or misunderstanding from the reports that have come…,” the chief minister clarified.

Sangma said, the quantity of rice seized is almost half of the states monthly requirement, and a huge quantity missing from the states godowns would have certainly been noticed.

The chief minister said as per a verbal report, the rice was meant for the social welfare department and he is waiting for a written report on the matter.

The seized rice is claimed to have been allocated to Continental Milkcose Ltd by FCI Shillong through the social welfare department.

The Assam police had claimed to have busted a scam involving supply of government rice by seizing one lakh bags of the cereal, belonging to the Food Corporation of India’s Meghalaya unit, from a private godown at Boko in Kamrup district while the food item was being repackaged for selling.

In a statement issued on Monday, Director of Social Welfare DD Shira said the department is awaiting an official letter from the Investigation Officer of the Assam government for inquiry and further appropriate action against the supplier.

According to him, the Government of India allocates rice under the Wheat Based Nutrition Programme (WBNP) to different states.

He said the Directorate of Social Welfare in turn allocated the rice to the approved manufacturer which was lifted from the FCI godown.

“The manufacturer then processes it into a variety of ready to eat fortified food products in the factory which is supplied to the Anganwadi centres under the Nutrition Programme,” Shira said.

The director further claimed that there has been no instance of non-supply of food items so far, and complete indented quantities have been received.

A team comprising Boko Police Officer-in-Charge Sanjeet Roy and Chhaygoan Circle Officer Jayanta Borah seized a truck and interrogated the driver and handyman, which led them to unravel the massive irregularities taking place at the godown of the private company. It was found that the company, identified as Maruti Quality Products Pvt Ltd (MQPPL), has a tie-up with a leading multinational food giant and their roles are being probed.

The MQPPL and its godown are owned by one Deepak Agarwal, who is absconding, and a joint investigation is being conducted by the police and the civil administrations.

(With inputs from PTI)

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