The August 15 search of a mill and seizure of rice meant for public distribution has brought the issue of rice scam to the fore once again. In 2004, a scam involving over 17,000 tonnes of rice, came to light. Officials of the Food and Civil Supplies Department and the Hassan tahsildar on August 15 raided the Guru New Tech Rice mill. The mill, incidentally, is owned by the brother of one of the accused in the 2004 scam. The officials seized 305 quintals and 40 kg of rice worth an estimated Rs. 9 lakh and a lorry.

A case has been booked under The Essential Commodities Act against the owner of the rice mill, Krishna. Krishna’s brother Jagadish, who owns another mill — the Guru Binny Rice Mill — was named as an accused in the 2004 rice scam.

As much as 17,000 tonnes of rice, meant for the National Food for Work programme, was illegally taken to Mangalore port with the alleged intention of exporting it to Mombasa in Kenya. Of that, 12,000 tonnes of rice was sourced from Guru Binny Rice Mill. As many as 28 people were arrested in that connection. The case is in court.

The mills owned by the brothers are in two adjacent buildings.

The police are now investigating the possibility of a scam in the supply of PDS rice to the Guru New Tech Rice mill. Krishna was allegedly planning to polish the rice, meant for distribution under the Anna Bhagya scheme, and sell it in the open market at a higher rate.

K. Rameshwarappa, Deputy Director of Food and Civil Supplies, told The Hindu that the officials had not been able to locate the source of the rice. “We are verifying all records and reviewing the stocks at the godowns of the Karnataka State Food and Civil Supplies Corporation,” he said.

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