While the CBI filing an FIR against IFFCO MD Dr U S Awasthi on Wednesday grabbed the media headlines, it also parallelly shocked friends and families of Awasthi, who is seen by many as a good Samaritan, always eager to help the nation and its people in difficulty.
Media reports say how people of his village Sathani Balakhera in Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh were pained at the news as they recounted several good works done by the MD from opening hospitals to arranging potable water for the people of the area.
Top officials of IFFCO are no less surprised by the charges levelled against the IFFCO MD. There are primarily two charges. One- IFFCO imported fertilisers and raw materials from Dubai at highly-inflated rates; and two- the MD cheated the government by claiming a higher subsidy from it.
On condition of anonymity, one of the top officials said fertilizer companies claim govt subsidies based on the sales, maintained in registers (now it is done through PoS machines) and there is hardly any scope for wrongdoing by anyone here. Secondly, a company can only claim subsidy based on its data, the govt has to examine the claim and grant subsidy based on its study; where does a chance of cheating exist in this? he asked saying that almost all the fertilizer companies can be hauled up on these imaginary grounds.
On the issue of import of raw material at inflated rates from Dubai, the official said that normally how a company conducts its affairs is not a concern of the government as the latter is in no way involved in the process either financially or otherwise. Even then there are records to show that IFFCO never bought raw materials at higher rates than its competitors, he added.
Adding further he said it is the IFFCO knack of buying at opportune time, assessing international scenarios, that has kept us ahead of our competitors. Where does the question of buying at higher rates arise, he asked?
The official also revealed that the names of Awasthi’s sons are being taken even though they are not into fertilizer business since the beginning and thus IFFCO has never ever bought an ounce of raw material from them, he informed. Anmol and Anupam-the two sons of Awasthi are in software development business, he added.
CBI in its report says that sham transactions were routed through the sons. It says that the suppliers paid money to them. IFFCO officials said anybody who takes software development services from them will have to pay them, what is a big deal in this?
Confident that the case will fall flat in trail court, the official however conceded that the damage has been done. The constant broadcast on TV and newspapers without a chance to explain the truth to us, has already tarnished the image of Awasthi, who is always seen fighting for farmers and people of the country -be it fertilizer prices or natural calamities.
The case has its origin in 2016 when Anant Kumar, then Chemical and Fertilizer Minister, wrote to the CBI seeking an inquiry against IFFCO and its MD. It was on Wednesday when CBI lodged an FIR against IFFCO’s managing director and some other directors.
The CBI also booked the MD of Indian Potash Parvinder Singh Gahlaut and conducted search operations at 12 premises in Delhi, Mumbai and Gurugram. Later, the CBI said it had found cash worth Rs 8.8 lakh at the premises of Awasthi. Fixed deposits of over Rs 5.5 crore in the name of Gahlaut and his family were also recovered. The agency’s officers also took possession of documents with respect to 19 immovable properties.