HYDERABAD: In a Rs1.78 billion scam involving the illicit sale of wheat bags, Sindh Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) has booked 25 officials of Sindh food department besides private persons in Sanghar district. The circle officer of ACE, Yar Muhammad Rind, informed on Tuesday that multiple FIRs have been registered against the officials and others after approval of the inquiry by the Sindh chief secretary.
The officials sold the wheat bags, which the food department distributes among the wheat farmers for the provincial government’s wheat procurement, illegally to the agents and traders last year. The district was reportedly allocated 1.7 million wheat bags of 100 kilogrammes each.
The Sindh government bought wheat at Rs1,300 per 40kg from the farmers. But as the provincial government delays the wheat procurement, the traders and agents buy wheat at around Rs1,000 to Rs1,100 per 40 kg rate from the farmers and later sell the same wheat to the government at Rs1,300 rate. Under the law, the food department is under obligation to distribute the wheat bags, which are also referred to as gunny bags or gunny sacks, to the wheat farmers only.
Deputy director Ali Asghar Naich, Sanghar District Food Controller Muhammad Munawar Arain, assistant food controller Jam Abid Ali and several in-charges and food inspectors deputed at some 40 food centres in Sanghar have been booked. However, Rind informed that none of the accused could be arrested so far during the initial raids at the food offices.
A similar inquiry by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is underway in Ghotki district where food officials illegally shifted wheat worth billions of rupees to flour mills under the pretext of temporary storage. The NAB team, which raided several flour mills, found that the mills had utilised and sold that wheat.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 16th, 2019.