ACB to probe onion sale, Delhi government cries foul

New Delhi, Sep 23 (IANS) A probe was ordered into the alleged irregularities in the procurement and sale of onions by Delhi government on Wednesday. Though the government denied any malpractice, posters targetting AAP government also came up in central Delhi.

Official sources said the Delhi’s Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) headed by IPS officer M.K. Meena, appointed to the post by Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung, had constituted a five-member team to probe the process of onion procurement by the Delhi government.

“We have called for an investigation into onion procurement after complaints and have formed separate teams,” ACB chief Meena told IANS.

Meena, however, refused to reveal the names of the officials who would probe the case.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said the Delhi government was ready to face any inquiry but asked the central government to ensure a fair probe in the CNG fitness scam.

“ACB is presently working under Modiji. The probe into the procurement of onions in Delhi has been started on the directions of the central government. We are ready for any probe,” Sisodia said.

Sisodia said all the files related to the purchase of onions have already been placed before “the public and the media”.

“We will send these files to PMO, but also want Modiji to direct the LG to provide CNG fitness scam files to the Delhi government’s probe commission,” Sisodia said.

“They (LG) are running away from the probe,” he added.

Sisodia even indicated that the government may take action against those trying to “defame” it.

The move by Meena, whose appointment as ACB chief was opposed by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government, comes two days after an RTI activist and BJP leader Vivek Garg filed a complaint with the ACB.

Garg accused the AAP government of buying onions at Rs.18 per kg and selling these at nearly double the price at Rs.30 per kg, even as it (the government) said it was selling onions at subsidised rates.

Garg said he called the fraud on the basis of an RTI query by him.

Meanwhile, the allegations over onions’ prices took political overtones when posters blaming the Delhi government of buying the vegetables for cheap and selling it at higher prices, were found plastered across central Delhi.

The posters said the AAP government was selling onions at Rs.40 per kg despite having procured them at Rs.18 per Kg. The posters describing the difference in prices as “Kejriwal Tax” also carried the Delhi government’s logo – “Delhi Sarkar, AAP ki Sarkar”.

The incident prompted the Delhi government to direct the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) to find out people behind the posters. “We have directed the NDMC to probe who put up the posters in its areas targeting the Delhi government. It’s a case of impersonation,” a government official said.

On September 21, the Delhi government had clarified, saying it was providing onions to the people of Delhi at subsidised rates.

It said onions were procured through Small Farmers Agri-Business Consortium (SFAC) at Rs.32.86 per kg and, after adding transportation and other charges, its total cost came to Rs.40 per kg.

However, the city government decided to give subsidy of Rs.10 a kg and sold onions through 280 fair price shops and mobile vans at Rs.30 per kg.

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