Friday, June 21, 2024

ED identifies two new angles in Bengal ration distribution case

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has identified two new lines of irregularities in its ongoing probe into the multi-crore ration distribution case in West Bengal, sources said.

According to the sources, the first angle deals with individual ration dealers who were forced to pay an unofficial ransom of Rs 4,000 a month to the higher ups, especially in the state food & supplies department, in order to keep their shops running.

As estimated by the EDs, these payments had started by the end of 2011 and continued till the beginning of 2021.

During this period, incumbent state Forest Minister Jyotipriya Mallick, who is currently in judicial custody in connection with the case, had served as the Food & Supplies Minister.

Currently, there are around 21,500 shops operating in West Bengal.

The second angle of irregularities was identified via a chain of fake ration shops.

The sources said the ED has identified 300 such shops, whose rationing licenses were only on papers and without any physical presence.

ED officials believe that essential food items procured from the Union government through these fake entities were sold in the open market at premium prices which went straight to the accused persons.

These two new angles identified by the ED sleuths, are in addition to the two previous ones

In the first, a portion of allotment for public distribution system were diverted for selling in open market and the second being paddy procured for market below minimum support price through fake farmers’ cooperatives were sold in open market again at premium price.

With the identification of the four irregularities, the ED estimates that the total scam amount will cross Rs 1,000 crore.

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