In a bid to ensure that the commodities reached the genuine card-holders during Deepavali festival, surprise checks were being conducted at various locations across the district.
Following complaints from card-holders in Chokkanathampatti, near Thirumangalam that the shop was closed for the last three days, Collector C. Kamaraj ordered a search.
A team of officials led by District Supply Officer N. Murugiah, Food Cell police and officials from the Cooperative Department conducted inquiries in the hamlet.
It was found that the shop was closed for reasons not known. When the salesman, identified as Chellathevan of Sengapadai near here, was summoned, his statements were contradictory. Physical checks in the shop too revealed that the accounts were not properly maintained. Further, the goods meant for distribution to the card holders were allegedly smuggled out. The value of the stock missing in the shop was assessed at Rs 14,000.
The Food Cell police are investigating the case. Meanwhile, on instructions from Mr. Kamaraj, the officials made alternative arrangements and distribution of essential commodities to the card holders commenced by noon.
Following another tip-off, the officials seized about 200 rice bags from a private godown two days ago on the outskirts of the city. In an early morning operation, the officials succeeded in intercepting a vehicle and checks suggested that the rice meant for distribution through ration shops were transported. Two persons were detained in this connection.
When contacted, Mr. Kamaraj said that the government would not remain a mute spectator and take stern action against erring violators and smugglers.