Nearly 7,000 tonnes of paddy have gone missing from the open paddy warehouse in the Dharmapuri district of Tamil Nadu, raising questions about the security of government warehouses.
According to sources, the Civil Supplies CID wing of the police, based on a tip-off, inspected the warehouse located in Dharmapuri.
On checking the records, the CID sleuths noted that 7,000 tonnes of paddy were brought into the warehouse in February.
However, on conducting a physical search, they could not locate the paddy stocks in the warehouse.
Authorities noncommittal, politicians irate
AIADMK general secretary Edappadi K Palaniswami, in a statement, raised questions about the missing paddy.
“It is very shocking that 7,000 tonnes of paddy are missing. The chief minister should take action against those who are responsible for the missing stock, and recover the 7,000 tonnes of paddy,” he said on Twitter.
ஒவ்வொரு நாளும் ஏமாற்றத்தை மட்டுமே தமிழக மக்களுக்கு பரிசளித்து வரும் இந்த விடியா திமுக ஆட்சியில், தற்போது
தர்மபுரியில் அரசு குடோனில் வைத்திருந்த 7,000 டன் நெல் மாயமாகி உள்ளதாக செய்திதாள்களில் வருவது அதிர்ச்சியை ஏற்படுத்துகிறது.
சர்க்கரையை எறும்பு தின்றது, சாக்கை கரையான்…
— Edappadi K Palaniswami (@EPSTamilNadu) May 30, 2023
Following this, Dharmapuri District Collector K Santhi inspected the open warehouse and denied that 7,000 tonnes of paddy were missing.
However, she said that only after a proper audit would it be known that how much paddy was missing.
According to sources, 15,000 paddy bags were at the warehouse and 7,000 bags were sent to mills. More than 100 workers were involved in separating the paddy bags.
However, Pattali Makkal Katchi president Anbumani Ramadoss in a statement brushed aside the explanation of the district collector and said that the officials were trying to hide the theft.
தருமபுரி அரசு கிடங்கிலிருந்து 7,000 டன் நெல் மூட்டைகள் மாயமானது எப்படி? விசாரணைக்கு ஆணையிட வேண்டும்!
தருமபுரி நகரில் மாவட்ட ஆட்சியர் அலுவலகத்திற்கு அருகில் அமைக்கப்பட்டிருந்த தமிழ்நாடு அரசு நுகர்பொருள் வாணிபக் கழகத்திற்கு சொந்தமான திறந்தவெளி கிடங்கிலிருந்து 7,000 ரன் எடை…
— Dr ANBUMANI RAMADOSS (@draramadoss) May 31, 2023
“It is impossible for an outsider to loot 7,000 tonnes of paddy in the warehouse, which is situated behind the Collector’s camp office, and has 24×7 surveillance,” he said.
He also said that the prime reason for such incidents was that paddy was stored in open places, and gets spoiled during the monsoon, when it rains.
Anbumani also urged the government to create a better infrastructure for the warehouses.
A history of wastage
In Thanjavur district, nearly 1,000 bags of harvested paddy was drenched at direct procurement centres (DPCs) during June 2021 monsoons.
The DPCs lacked proper storage facilities and the farmers were pleading with the government to at least cover the paddy bags with polythene.
In January 2022, an open-air godown at Sannapuram near Kumbakonam nearly 50,000 bags of paddy weighing 10,000 tonnes worth Rs 1 crore had been completely drenched in heavy rains.
In April 2022, in an open paddy warehouse at Nedunkulam near Aruppukottai, more than 10,000 bags of paddy were left in the open for several days. The bags were drenched in the rain.
There are 57 warehouses and 256 godowns maintained by the Tamil Nadu government under the Tamil Nadu Warehousing Corporation, which has been functioning through seven regional offices in Kancheepuram, Cuddalore, Mettupalayam, Dindigul, Salem, Tirunelveli, and Tiruchirappalli.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin recently inaugurated another 84 modern paddy storage facilities in 10 districts under godowns of the Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation.
These were built at a cost of ₹238.07 crore and were meant to store 2.86 lakh metric tons of paddy.
Storage standards questioned
K Rasakanu, secretary of the Kadamadai Vivasaigal Sangam from Karur, said that nearly 1,000 tonnes of paddy are spoilt every year in the state due to rain and other calamities.
“The Tamil Nadu Warehousing Corporation claims that it built warehouses in a scientific way and maintains them to an international standard. One should visit any of those open warehouses. They would find that the paddy bags are covered with tarpaulin. Is this the international standard?” he asked.
He also stated that during the harvest seasons, when the government procures paddy through DPCs and transports them to the warehouses, the officials often halt procurement due to a lack of gunny bags.
The practice of leaving or storing paddy in open spaces should be avoided, he said.