Special Correspondent

Detain goods train carrying rice worth Rs. 2 cr. at Chirala

  • Rice samples sent for quality check, says Joint Collector
  • 2,500 tonnes were being exported to Dibrugarh
  • Officials wonder if Chirala has becomecentre for illegal trade

    ONGOLE: In a major operation, Civil Supplies officials detained a goods train carrying 2,500 tonnes of rice worth Rs. 2 crores from Chirala to Dibrugarh at Chirala on Wednesday to find out whether there were any irregularities.

    Joint Collector Siddhardh Jain told The Hindu here that Chirala Rice Millers Association had booked the rakes for transport of rice belonging to six mills in Prakasam district, 16 in Guntur and two in Nellore to Dibrugarh. The samples had been sent to three agencies -- Civil Supplies Corporation, Food Corporation of India and a private agency -- to report on the quality and quantity of rice to know whether the rice belonged to food-for-work programme or public distribution system or not.

    40 rakes

    Following a tip-off, Civil Supplies, Vigilance and Revenue officials swooped on Chirala railway station and found 40 rakes were already loaded with 2,500 tonnes of rice and the train was ready to leave for Dibrugarh. They were surprised that such huge quantities of rice was being exported from Chirala and wondered whether the small town became a centre for illegal trade of rice not only for Prakasam, but also Guntur and Nellore districts.

    They requested the railway officials to detain the train for a day or two for verification of records of the concerned millers.

    Apart from probing into the quantity of paddy purchased by the millers, the rice yield, their contribution to levy and availability of surplus rice with them for export, the officials are also testing samples to know whether it was Andhra or Punjab rice or admixture or polished.

    Criminal cases

    Mr. Jain said the millers could be prosecuted under Essential Commodities Act if it was found to be PDS rice. Criminal cases could be launched against them if the rice came under the FFW programme. He explained that there are no restrictions on rice movement now. The millers are however expected to buy paddy at minimum support price and mill it to get 67 per cent rice. After giving 75 per cent of their rice as levy to FCI, they are free to sell the balance in the open market here or export without any need for permits.

    The onus now lies on the concerned millers to show proper records, he said.