Unaccounted money worth Rs7.25 cr unearthed from veg merchants

Written by: Manoj Kumar Ramesh
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Chandigarh, Jan 12 (PTI) Amid protests from vegetablemerchants over tax raids, the I-T department has unearthedunaccounted money worth over Rs 7 crore from Punjab-basedwholesale vegetable merchants, an official said today.

The money was unearthed by the authorities during a surveyconducted last week to check commodity hoarding in the wake ofsoaring onion prices.

"About Rs 7.25 crore has been surrendered by (wholesale)vegetable merchants in Punjab during the survey operationsconducted last week," Income Tax (Investigationwing), Additional Director, BK Singh told PTI here today.

The I-T sleuths unearthed a whopping Rs 4.25 crore asundisclosed money from a single vegetable merchant in Amritsarwhile Rs 1.25 crore from Ludhiana-based traders and Rs 1.75crore from Jalandhar based traders.

The department is still investigating the records ofwholesale traders to ascertain the mismatch between physicalstocks of goods and stocks maintained in accounts books.

"It will take a little time before the final report(about the surveys) is out and it will throw light on whatmodus operandi was adopted by the vegetable traders forhoarding commodities," sources said.

Department officials, however, asserted that it wasvery difficult to completely control hoarding of agriculturalproducts, they said survey operations do help in curbingtendency of hoarding among traders.

Income Tax department swooped down on vegetable merchantsin Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Chandigarh, Faridabad andJammu and Kashmir simultaneously on January 6.

"The details regarding operations conducted in Chandigarh,J&K and Faridabad is awaited," official said.

Expressing anguish over the Income Tax surveys, vegetabletraders in Punjab had accused the I-T officials of harassingthem by carrying out raids on them.

"We are being harassed by the Income Tax Departmentunnecessarily�we are not hoarders as we do not buildvegetables stock as we dispose them of to our customers as andwhen we get the supply," said an Amritsar-based trader.

Significantly, despite IT survey operations, onion pricescontinued to rule high at Rs 55-60 per kg in Punjab andChandigarh. They had come down to a level of Rs 40-45 a kg,courtesy import of onion from Pakistan.

But the price of the vegetable again shot up whenneighbouring country imposed a ban on onion export.

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