The arrest of 19 people by Gujarat police in the episode of mixing of sand and gravel in the procurement of groundnuts has shaken the top leadership of Nafed in Delhi as well as one of the arrested persons happens to be the nephew of Nafed Chairman V R Patel, said one of the Directors on the board of agri co-operative to Indian Cooperative on condition of anonymity.
So far 22 persons, including officials of two agencies involved in the purchase of groundnut Rs 4000 crore have been arrested. The raids are still continuing.
“Since one of the accused is the nephew of Chairman V R Patel, it is inevitable that questions would be raised”, he said without naming him. The Nafed Board is scheduled to meet on August 22 when demand for the resignation of the Chairman is sure to be raised, he added.
The senor most Vice-President of Nafed Dileep Sanghani, however, denied any bid to topple the Chairman.” I have not heard of this and nobody has talked to me about this development; being the senior Vice-President I must be consulted in such scenario”, Sanghani stated.
Sanghani also clarified that the arrested person is a distant relative of the Chairman and is not his own nephew as is being made out in media reports. “When you live in a large joint family you cannot monitor and guide the activities of each member”, Sanghani added.
“And the best part is Patel has himself asked for an impartial enquiry saying nobody should be spared”, Sanghani said in the defense of V R Patel.
It bears recall that the Gujarat Police took into custody several people including a warehousing manager of Gujarat State Co-Operative Cotton Federation Limited (GUJCOT) for their alleged involvement in adulteration of groundnuts bought from farmers in cahoots with the cooperative society of Junagadh.
The police had registered a complaint for adulteration of 31,000 bags of groundnut stored at a godown in Pedhla village. Magan Zalavadiya the main accused was responsible for mixing soil and gravel with groundnuts.
Sanghani, however admitted that a large-scale bungling was reported in the procurement and feared that more such cases would come up in course of time. He also regretted that GUCAMASOL could do just 14% of procurement, leading to the appearance of new players on the scene who had neither the manpower nor the experience to do the job.
Earlier, the incidents of groundnut godowns catching fire in Gujarat had snowballed into a major face-off between the State govt and the Nafed top brass. The two sides blamed each other for the mishap.
In simple words- the Central govt appointed Nafed as procurement agency for groundnuts and wanted it to collaborate with the state govt to complete the job. It was the state govt which did most of the distribution of procurement jobs.
But it does not mean that Nafed gets a clean chit. Its two agencies appointed to check the quality of procured items are also alleged to have colluded with the locals in certifying the quality of groundnuts thus procured. National Bulk Handling Corporations and Agri Star-the two agencies have much to answer for and Nafed would do well to take them to task including black-listing them immediately for not red-flagging the matter.