Even after repeated concerns by the farmers and Opposition parties over the alleged irregularities in paddy procurement across Odisha, it seems the State government has failed to learn any lesson out of it and find out the lacunae in the system.
In a jaw-dropping revelation, the satellite survey conducted by the Odisha Space Application Centre (OSAC) has unearthed large-scale irregularities and identified over 26,000 illegal lands in seven districts in the State registered for paddy procurement.
According to sources, OSAC had conducted the survey a few weeks ago to check the authenticity of the plot registration for the paddy procurement. But to the surprise, it found as many as 26,617 lands including forests, bushes, residential plots, barren fields,
ponds and even non-agricultural ineligible lands in Sambalpur, Kuchinda and Rairakhole being registered for the paddy procurement.
Soon after the matter came to fore, the Cooperative Department cancelled the paddy procurement tokens provided for the aforementioned lands.
“The satellite report is 98 percent true. The illegal plots have been blocked and no token has been issued for them,” said Lingaraj Nayak, senior Cooperative Department official, Sambalpur.
The satellite survey began in Sambalpur, Bargarh, Subarnapur, Bolangir, Nuapada, Kalahandi and Koraput districts after complaints of middlemen buying paddy from the farmers at cheaper price surfaced.
“We conducted the satellite survey with the help of OSAC and unearthed over 26000 false entries and saved Rs 1600 crore. We are working to enhance the system further,” said Ranendra Pratap Swain, Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Minister.
Meanwhile, questions have been raised how the Cooperative department failed to identify the large scale false entries or is there any nexus between middlemen and government officials.
“As per the formal procedure, scrutinisation of documents is followed by registeration of land and verification. Question arises how such a huge number of ineligible lands registered for paddy procurement,” asked Nitesh Kumar Sahoo, Remed Seba Cooperative society secretary.