Bengal food department’s payments to rice mills with Anubrata Mondal links under CBI scanner

Payments made by the state food and supplies department to two rice mills at Bolpur in West Bengal’s Birbhum district are now under the scanner of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The mills had some relatives of Trinamool Congress strongman Anubrata Mondal, including his daughter, Sukanya Mondal, as partners.

These two rice mills, christened ‘Bhole Bom Rice Milla’ and ‘Shiva Sambhu Rice Mill’, were enlisted for rice procurement with the state food & supplies department, as per the documents available with the CBI.

On August 19, the CBI sleuths conducted raids at Bhole Bom Rice Mill, and on Monday morning at the Shiva Shambhu Rice Mill. From the different documents seized from these two rice mills, the sleuths noted that although there were some records of payments received from the state food & supplies department against the rice procurement, there was no record of the supply of the rice to the state government department. Anubrata Mondal’s nephew, Raja Ghosh has been traced as one of the owners of the Shiva Sambhu Rice Mill.

From preliminary investigations at these two rice mills, the CBI sleuths have been intrigued by certain factors. The local people said that although the production process at these two rice mills were closed for almost over a year, the employees of the mills used to regularly visit the mills.

Five high-end SUVs in running conditions were found in the premises of the Bhole Bom Rice Mill, where CBI sleuths conducted raid and search operations on August 19.

“So, the question is, with the production process being suspended over a long time, what was the actual purpose of keeping these mills open,” said a central agency official.

Meanwhile, the CBI sleuths have forwarded a set of questions to the office of District Controller of Food & Supplies, Birbhum about this link between the state government and these two rice mills.

The set of questions include the amount of rice procured by the department from these two rice mills since the financial year 2015-16 and how much payment was made to them against this procurement. The central agency sleuths have also sought information about the mode of payment and whether TDS was deducted while making the payment. The CBI sleuths are now looking forward to the reply.

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