New Delhi, May 6: A careless Indian Security Press at Nashik virtually gave Abdul Karim Telgiís scamsters free lessons, setting them on their way to making fake stamp papers. But it hasnít cared to learn from that mistake.
Telgi had started buying condemned machines from the press in 1998 to print fake stamp papers worth crores. Lax security allowed the buyers to watch the machines being dismantled ' and thus learn how to re-assemble them.
Telgi has been behind bars since 2001, but a fresh audit of security procedures at the press has suggested the government hasnít come anywhere close to plugging the holes that made the stamp paper scam possible.
One of them is the risk associated with the continued shortage of stamp papers, says the report by the comptroller and auditor general. Since 1996, the press has been able to meet only 46 per cent of the requirements of state governments. This was not, however, due to capacity constraints.
'The machinery was used on an average of only five hours and 15 minutes against the effective working hours per shift of nine hours,' the report says, maintaining that the absence of log books means the unutilised machine-hours couldnít be explained.
The pressís decision to outsource several procedures to produce stamp papers and revenue stamps, which 'carry very high risk' of replication for counterfeit, without proper security and surveillance, too, comes under fire.
For instance, the auditors have found that nine paper mills that had at some point been contracted to manufacture paper for the press continued to have custody of 53 dandy rolls, a device used to give the paper its security watermark.
West Bengalís Titagarh Paper Mills was the last mill to be inspected by the press. During the 1996 inspection, only 12 out of 26 dandy rolls were found. The press bothered neither to take custody of the 12 nor to trace the 14 missing rolls though it had not done business with the mill for 20 years.
Nearly 560 people have been held and fake stamp papers worth Rs 3,350 crore seized across the country..