Nellore: Nellore police arrested 30 ration shop dealers, 4 computer operators and 3 others of Nellore district for tampering e-PASS machines and selling the rice meant for public distribution in the open market. Police swung into action after civil supplies officials lodged a complaint when they came to know that rice is not reaching the beneficiaries.
According to Crime Branch-DSP Balasundar Rao, one Bandaru Pavan Kumar of Vijayawada along with three computer operators devised the plan to pilfer the rice using the knowledge they gained while working in civil supplies wing as computer operators in the past. One of them, Konduru Srinivasa Raju, is still working as coordinator for e-PASS machines at the district supplies office in Nellore. He passed on the user ID and password of the joint collector and DSO to Pavan Kumar.
He along with Vivek and Sankaraiah, who were computer operators in the past, colluded with fair price shop dealers and tampered the machines. They targeted the rice being supplied under Antyodaya and Indira Awas Yojna schemes to the poor by altering the machines to accept thumb impression of someone else. They used to collect Rs 6,000 as commission for every quintal of rice from the dealers.
They carried out the fraud in February, March and April, apart from November and December, last year. They could not tamper the machines between June and October because of change in digital key password by higher officials. They resumed the operation after their contacts in the office shared the password from November. Rice to the extent of 41,755 kg and 1,193 of sugar worth Rs 10 lakhs was bagged by the accused. DSP hinted that they are likely to arrest some more people and the investigation will continue further.