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Ramakanta Biswas

Bolangir: At a time when irregularities in paddy procurement have triggered massive public outburst in Odisha, a mega rice scam to the tune of Rs 6 crore by a miller has come to fore in Bolangir district.

The rice fraud by the proprietor of Liluram Rice Mill at Kantabanji came to light after a crackdown was conducted by the district administration. A team led by Titlagarh sub-collector searched 7-8 godowns belonging to the rice mill.

Though the officials contacted the mill owner, Niwas Jain, he did not turn up. Later, the godowns were searched in presence of one of his relatives.

During the raid, the officials found 30,000 quintals of paddy and 1,000 quintals of rice less at the mill as against the paddy they had procured. The misappropriation amounts to nearly Rs 6 crore. The officials have seized the bank deposits and bank accounts of the accused miller.

After a detailed assessment, the district civil supplies officer issued a recovery notice of over Rs 3.5 crore to the miller. Moreover, an FIR has been lodged at Kantabanji police station against the accused and his relatives.

District Civil Supplies Officer Bikram Majhi said, "We asked the mill owner to cooperate in the raid, but he did not turn up and instead sent his elder brother. A recovery notice has been issued for the shortage of paddy and rice in the mill. Besides, FIR has been lodged against the mill owner."

On the basis of the complaint of Turekela supply inspector, a case has been registered against the accused under Section 420 at Kantabanji police station. However, the accused is absconding.

Meanwhile, questions are being raised how the miller committed such a massive fraud without the patronage of the government officials. Locals have demanded stringent punishment for the miller.

"The millers are doing Katni Chhatni to the tunes of 5-10 kg per packet of paddy. Besides, they embezzle government funds in connivance with government officials which needs to be probed," said Surath Behera, an intellectual of Kantabanji

The police as well as the local administration refused to comment on the allegations.

(Edited By Pradeep Singh)

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