Maharashtra government to impose MCOCA in foodgrain scam

Mumbai(dna): The state has decided to impose the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crimes (Prevention) Act (MCOCA) on a gang of five from Nashik in connection with the foodgrain scam. This is for the first time that MCOCA has been imposed in this scam.

For representation purpose only
For representation purpose only

Minister for food and civil supplies Girish Bapat announced in Pune on Monday that MCOCA provisions have been imposed and the police station in Wadivare of Igatpuri Taluka in Nashik district has filed cases against the ration mafia.

The accused are Sampat Ghorpade (50), Vishwas Ghorpade (46), Arun Ghorpade (44), Magan alias Madan Pawar (43) and Ramesh Patankar (45). Bapat said Sampat is the leader of the gang, which has been involved in other similar scams in the district.

MLCs Hemant Takale and others had raised the issue during the budget session of the state assembly. Bapat had announced suspension of 17 government employees including nine tehsildars in this scam.

Bapat said the urgana case involved 300 trucks of foodgrain sold in the open market, while there were other cases where rice was directly sold to mills instead of distributing through the public distribution system. He added that the two cases from Surgana aqnd Sinnar were similar, with the modus operandi same, which led to exploring the possibility of imposing MCOCA provisions.

In numbers
Surgana scam: 30,000 quintal of foodgrain were found being sold in the open market
Sinnar scam: 140 quintals of rice was sold to rice mills.

About the accused
All those booked under the MCOCA are involved in more than one crime; they are contractors, transporters or agents. When asked about the government officials, Bapat said Nashik divisional commissioner is conducting an inquiry against them. If found guilty, action would be taken against them as per the divisional commissioner’s inquiry report, he added.

Cracking down
Bapat said his department is taking several measures, such as introducing GPS, forming flying squads, doing door-to-door delivery of foodgrain, introducing group SMS system, declaring monthly distribution and allocation on official website, and ensuring computerisation of ration cards. He added that introducing Aadhaar-linked PDS was a priority to reduce leakages, almost to the tune of 30% in the state, in the system.