Aata scheme faces scrutiny as Punjab Governor raises questions


In a recent development, the ongoing rift between Punjab Governor Banwari Lal Purohit and Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has reached a new level of tension. The Punjab Governor has once again written a letter to CM Mann, raising serious concerns about the implementation of the Aata Scheme in the state. Additionally, he has questioned the Chief Minister’s apparent indifference towards a letter sent by the Governor’s Office, which remained unattended.
In his letter, Governor Purohit states, “Even as I express my distress over your indifference to the communications from the Office of Governor and your consistent failure to respond officially to those letters, I feel constrained to remind you of what the architect of the Constitution of India, Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar, had to say about the functioning of the Office of Governor. This is in reference to the picture of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar that you have put up in your office, giving the people of Punjab an impression that you follow his principles in letter and spirit.”
The mentioned letter raises concerns about the lack of response in an important matter. It has been brought to my attention that a new scheme for delivering atta (flour) at doorsteps through Fair-Price shops has been finalized. On my instructions, the Principal Secretary of Raj Bhawan wrote to the Chief Secretary on this issue via a letter dated 24-9-2022 (a copy of which is enclosed), and no reply has been received so far.
The letter further mentions, “After reminding you about the speech of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, I hope you will send replies to all our letters addressed to you or your office. I would like to remind you once again that even after a lapse of about six months since I sought information under Article 167 of the Constitution, nothing is heard from your side. Hence, this communication.”
It is brought to my notice that while delivering your speech, on the sacred floor of the Legislative Assembly, you called me ‘fear. However, any abusive or derogatory words by you are not going to deter me from discharging my constitutional duty as Governor.”
The Governor’s office attached the previously dated letter that was sent to CM Mann, questioning the Aata Scheme over its anomalies, mentioning that this scheme could result in the loss of livelihood for several thousands of families of depot holders and small flour mills (chakkis) in the villages and small towns of Punjab.
The scheme opens up possibilities for big flour mills to mix substandard/poor-quality wheat while grinding. Poor beneficiaries can detect low quality when the wheat is supplied as grain but cannot detect poor quality when it is in atta form. This could lead to a potential health hazard for the beneficiaries.
The scheme has not taken into consideration the by-products of grinding the wheat, such as maida, suji, wheat-bran, etc., which command considerable value in the market. The scheme opens up possibilities for huge underhand gains for flour mill owners and corruption at all levels. I am directed by the Hon’ble Governor, Punjab, to request you to carefully examine all these issues raised in the representation of Sh. Partap Singh Bajwa.