Punjab: Eyeing hefty profits, unscrupulous traders smuggle paddy into state

By Aman Sood

Middlemen and traders are making hefty profits by illegally supplying paddy purchased from various states, including Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, to sell it at the minimum support price (MSP) in Punjab.

A smuggled paddy truck costs a trader around Rs 3.30 lakh, which is sold for around Rs 7 lakh in Punjab.

As a result, the Punjab Mandi Board has warned of strict action against “traders and officials” trying to smuggle paddy into the state in connivance with arhtiyas.

A senior police officer said, “We have impounded around 12 paddy-laden trucks entering Punjab. We are monitoring the roads connecting inter-state borders through villages.”

Sources said traders were purchasing paddy for Rs 1,100 to Rs 1,300 per quintal in Bihar, UP and several other states. “They make a profit of several hundred rupees per quintal by selling the same paddy in Punjab at the MSP of Rs 2,183,” they said.

Members of a farm union said a politically backed mafia was active in areas bordering neighbouring states.

“The mafia makes a huge profit by smuggling paddy from UP and Madhya Pradesh and selling it at the MSP,” they said, adding that several persons had been arrested in the past couple of years, but the need of the hour was to identify the kingpins.

Patiala SSP Varun Sharma said their patrolling team had impounded many paddy-laden trucks. “Recently, we impounded a truck in Patran loaded with 318 quintal of poor-quality paddy purchased from Barabanki in UP. We are trying to identify the kingpins of this trade,” said Sharma.

Harchand Singh Barsat, Chairman, Punjab Mandi Board, said, “We have deputed 20 teams at the inter-state borders and have also introduced biometric system in mandis to check this malpractice.”

He said, “This kharif season, the inflow of smuggled paddy is not much. Even flying squads are regularly patrolling across the state. Stern action will be taken against officers involved in this illegal trade.”

This article has been republished from The Tribune

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