Vigil up at Tamil Nadu paddy procurement centres after bribery charge

By D Vincent Arockiaraj & Julie Mariappan
The Tamil Nadu civil supplies corporation on Friday deployed six more vigilance teams in addition to the existing three to check corruption at the direct procurement centres (DPC) in the delta districts – Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, Mayiladuthurai and Nagapattinam. Farmers are protesting, alleging that the staff at the DPCs demand bribe to buy their produce.

Members of the Tamil Nadu Cauvery Farmers’ Protection Association led by its secretary Swamimalai S Vimalnathan, on Thursday, protested near the revenue divisional office at Kumbakonam demanding action. “Despite the farmers seeking action against the erring staff for years, there is no end to the menace. The government should order a vigilance probe,” Vimalnathan said, adding that the issue was not confined to Kumbakonam. The allegation is that the DPCs prioritise only those farmers who are ready to bribe 125/quintal and other farmers are made to wait, which has forced most farmers to give in to the demand for bribe.

The corporation had opened 2,271 DPCs until Thursday and procured 17 lakh tonnes of paddy. Food and civil supplies minister R Sakkarapani warned of severe action against wrongdoers as the DMK government had increased labour charges for handling bags from 3.25/bag to 10/bag and granted travelling/transportation allowance of 120/day to bill clerks and 100/day to helpers and watchmen, incurring an additional expenditure of 83 crore a year. “We terminated 90 temporary staff last week. We will initiate severe action against those demanding bribe,” the minister told TOI. Civil supplies CID officials and district collectors were told to take action against the DPC staff, he said. Officials had held meetings with the staff ahead of the procurement to warn them against taking bribe, he said.

Farmers are given minimum support price of 2,060/quintal and the state government’s incentive of 100 per quintal for Grade A variety and 2,040/quintal and incentive of 75 for the common variety. In a statement, PMK leader S Ramadoss demanded the government conduct inquiry into the charges.

This article has been republished from The Times of India.