Panaji, May 14 (IANS): Goa's Department of Civil Supplies, which is often in the limelight for wastage and spoilage of commodities in godowns, has now once again drawn attention over its alleged mismanagement by supplying rice infested with maggots, mites and fungus to ration card holders in the coastal state.
Speaking to IANS, Civil Supplies director Gopal Parsekar said that it is a fact that some fair price shops have received spoiled rice, which will be replaced soon.
"We normally check the rice when stocked in godowns, however the photos of this supplied rice clear that it is spoiled and hence we will replace it," he said.
Former Civil Supplies Minister Jose Philip D'souza has lambasted officials for wastage of this rice in huge quantities.
"Civil Supplies inspectors should check it before delivering to fair price shops (FPS). I don't blame the minister directly, but there are officers, whose duty is to check. They have not checked it and hence has reached to FPS," D'souza, Goa NCP President, said.
He said that FPS owners should not have given it to the public, when they came to know that rice was infested. "They are also to be blamed for it as they failed to bring it to the notice of officers," D'souza said.
"When I was minister, we never distributed such commodities to the public. People should not be taken for granted and supplied with such spoiled commodities. Government failed to keep a check on it. It should be sent back to the central government," he said.
"I am really pained that such spoiled rice is supplied to the public. Godowns should be good and care should be taken of commodities stored there," D'souza said.
He said that it is wasteful expenditure to supply spoiled rice and then send it back to godowns by a fair price shop after rejecting it. "Why waste money on transportation," he said.
One FPS owner on the condition of anonymity said that it is wrong to supply such infested rice to them by department.
"They should check it and then send it to us. How can we supply such rice to the public. It would be wrong on our part if we do it. It's a total failure of management by the department. The officers responsible should be booked, else such things will continue," he said.
In August last year, the Civil Supplies Department drew criticism after 241 tonnes of toor dal was found spoiled in the godowns.
Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant had then said that officers responsible for the wastage of 241 tonnes of tur dal will face action.
"Government will not tolerate negligence like tur dal rotting incidents. We will take action against officers responsible for it. "If any more items are found damaged in godowns, then strict action will be taken against the officers. Wastage can't take place even if godowns are not in good condition. It (commodities) should be utilised before expiry," Sawant had said.
The Chief Minister added that he has asked for a detailed report from the Civil Supplies Secretary on the issue.
Opposition party's had demanded an independent investigation by central agencies on the wastage of the tur dal, procured by Civil Supplies Department for public distribution during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.
The issue came to light after the state government had issued advertisements inviting bidders to dispose of the spoiled tur dal.
In another case, the Crime Branch of Goa Police in November last year had claimed that they had seized foodgrains stolen from godowns of the Civil Supplies Department. However, Civil Supplies Minister Ravi Naik hastily clarified that there was no 'mismatch' in their storage and supply.
The police had seized 754 rice bags and 253 bags (50 kg each) containing wheat from three places, valued at Rs 7,52,000. Three cases were filed by the police in this connection.
The Crime Branch had arrested five individuals identified as -- Hazrat Sayyed, Vinay Kumar Gudimani, Prakash Korishetter, Tausif Mulla and Ramkumar. However, two accused persons -- Sachin Naik and Virendra Mardholkar were granted anticipatory bail.
In 2013, the police had conducted a similar raid and seized rice in large quantities.