40 machines, extra bank staff to count notes
Bhubaneswar: For the fourth consecutive day on Saturday, the officials of the Income Tax (I-T) department continued their crackdown on liquor manufacturers and traders in Odisha.
After recovering around Rs 200 crore recently, the I-T department officials recovered 20 more packets of cash from the house of one Bunty at his Sudhapada house in Balangir town.
Bunty works as a manager of a country-liquor manufacturer.
The I-T department officials suspect that the cash found from Bunty's house would be around Rs 100 crore. However, there is no confirmation from the I-T department about the exact amount of the money recovered from Bunty's premises.
Initially, the income tax team loaded the money in a pickup van filled with bags and boxes and later shifted to the currency chest of the State Bank of India (SBI) in Balangir .
How much money has been seized from the manager's house will be cleared only after the counting of the cash.
However, counting money for income tax and bank officials has also become a herculean task. Several bank employees have been deployed in two shifts to help the I-T department officials count them. Around 10 cash counting machines have been sought from nearby banks. It is also said that the machines are even getting out of order while counting the money.
As per the Reginal Manager of the SBI, around 50 employees from several banks are counting the cash with the help of 25 counting machines. "We are trying to finish the counting in the next two days. Saturday and Sunday are holidays, so we will have more counting machines here with us. There were 176 bags of cash, out of which we have only counted cash from 40 bags."
The liquor manufacturer in question is a stakeholder of Baldeo Sahu & Group of Companies, one of the biggest country liquor manufacturers and selling companies in western Odisha. The Income Tax has raided the offices and residences of all the persons linked to this group.
The I-T sleuths also raided Boudh Distillery Private Limited (BDPL) which is a subsidiary of Baldeo Sahu Infra Private Limited.
According to sources, the group is allegedly linked to Dhiraj Sahu, a Congress' Rajya Sabha member from Jharkhand, whose family members run the business.
While an investigation is underway to find out the source and owner of the money, Income Tax DG, Sanjay Bahadur, who was in Odisha during the I-T raids, said that the details regarding the raids will be shared by the I-T media cell in Delhi.
The non-stop I-T raids have been going on in different places in Odisha since Wednesday. From Sambalpur to Rourkela and Bolangir to Sundargarh, investigations and raids are going on in several western Odisha towns.
Apart from Balangir, counting of huge amounts of money recovered from Dhanupali country liquor distillery and Badabazar area in Sambalpur is also underway. Similarly, raids have been conducted on the house and office of country liquor distillery owner, Rajkishore Prasad Jaiswal, a liquor trader at Sargipali in Sundargarh district.
National politics has also heated up as the link of Jharkhand Congress MP and liquor baron Dhiraj Sahu has come to the fore in the alleged tax evasion case.
A 20-member Income Tax analysis team from Hyderabad arrived at Bolangir on Saturday to assist in the ongoing investigation regarding the seizure of huge cash. The team is likely to examine electronic gadgets, including computers of the liquor traders' firm and others.
As per Balangir SBI Regional Manager, around 50 employees from several branches of the SBI are engaged in the counting of the cash with the help of 25 counting machines.
"We are trying to finish the counting in the next two days. As there is a holiday on Saturday and Sunday, we will have more counting machines available with us. There were 176 bags of cash, out of which we have only counted cash from 40 bags worth Rs 46 crore. If no more cash comes, we will hopefully finish the counting by Sunday night," he said.