New Delhi: A Parliamentary panel has warned that corruption could spiral out of control at the Food Corporation of India (FCI) if strict action is not taken as it flagged serious concerns over a large number of vigilance cases against officials at the state-owned institution.
FCI is the nodal agency for procurement and distribution of food grains.
The Standing Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution said it was “pained to know” that a large number of vigilance cases have been registered against FCI officials in the last four financial years.
In 2017-18, 2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020-21, the number of cases stood at 817, 828, 691 and 406, respectively. The figures for the last fiscal are till September 2020.
The panel noted that a complaint against GM (Haryana) is pending, and in the case of Manager (Commercial), Udaipur District and Manager (Accounts), Udaipur, charge sheets have been issued/penalty imposed.
During 2020-21, three cases have been referred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and three cases to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), the committee said in a report tabled in Parliament on Tuesday.
The panel, headed by Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay, Tuesday said it was of the view that “corruption in FCI may spiral out of control if strict action is not taken”.
Further, the committee has recommended that FCI should strengthen its vigilance mechanism in coordination with the States/UTs to detect corrupt practices by its officers and take stringent punitive action against them, if found guilty.
“The committee also desires that senior officers should be held accountable to uproot the evil of corruption. The committee further desires that the Public Distribution System should be made more transparent and accountable,” the report said.
Another recommendation is that efforts should be made for early disposal of pending cases as delay in disposal of vigilance cases would encourage corrupt practices and undermine the authority of law.
The panel has also suggested that FCI staff should be transferred after a fixed period to avoid creation of vested interests.
On complaints related to diversion of food grains, the panel said it was vital that the benefits reach the intended sections of the society, since crores of rupees are being spent for allocating subsidised food grains to the poorest of the poor in the country every year.
The government should ensure that food grains do not get damaged/spoiled by taking adequate scientific storage measures and fixing responsibilities on officials/officers for accrual of damaged food grains, the report said.