BJP seeks probe into dal scam by SC committee

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Bhubaneswar: Alleging a Rs 700 crore scam in supply of pulses for mid-day meal (MDM) and similar schemes in Orissa due to flouting of court directives, BJP on Thursday sought a probe into it by a Supreme Court committee.

Accusing the state government of flouting procedures prescribed by Supreme Court and Orissa High Court on procurement of pulses, senior BJP leader Bijoy Mohapatra told reporters that sub-standard and adulterated pulses were supplied for MDM and Supplementary Nutrition Programme (SNP).

The apex court on a petition by Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) had ordered in 2004 that contractors would not supply food, mainly for Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) programmes but Orissa government had continued to violate the directive, he said.

The irregularities continued for the past 8 years for schemes implemented by women and child development department involving 1.06 crore beneficiaries as the state government failed to take any step despite its affidavit in Supreme Court, he said.

The state government also failed to take action on the May 2010 High court directive for scrutiny, monitoring and verification to ensure continuous supply of quality arhar dal at reasonable prices, Mohapatra said.

Though HC ordered formation of a committee comprising secretaries of civil supplies, agriculture and WCD to monitor supply of pulses, no action was taken in this regard, he said.

Claiming that around Rs 525 crore was spent for purchase of about 70,000 ton pulses annually, the BJP leader said irregularities to the tune of Rs 700 crore took place in the process for which officials, WCD minister and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik are responsible.

"Since the state government had been rejecting demands for CBI probe into several other scams, the Supreme Court should form a committee to probe serious irregularities committed in supply of dal," he said adding state vigilance wing too had also provided some information on it.

Reacting to the charges, the chief minister said "We are waiting for report from the anti-corruption vigilance wing … and action will be taken."

Coming down heavily on WCD Minister Pramila Mallick, Mohapatra said her brother Khirod has been made a member of the state-level monitoring committee for MDM scheme in violation of established norms.

Stating that the chief minister had wrongly approved the monitoring committee, he said Pramila Mallick should not continue as minister and it was up to Naveen Patnaik to take a decision about her fate.

Refuting the allegation, Mallick said her brother was member of the monitoring committee on his own capability and not as her brother.

Besides, he is also a member of an international NGO, the minister said adding guidelines set by Supreme Court and Orissa High Court were followed in the procurement of pulses.

District collectors, secretary level officers to ministers and chief minister are responsible for the multi-crore scam and should be punished, Mohapatra said.

Reacting to BJP`s allegation, state agriculture minister Damodar Rout said the chief minister has taken the matter seriously and was contemplating modification in the process of pulse procurement.

Director of Vigilance wing Anup Patnaik said raids had been conducted in over a dozen places and prima facie evidence of irregularities were found.

“If required, our team will go directly to dal suppliers outside the state,“ he said.

Preliminary investigation showed that the suppliers had provided pulses inferior to the samples they had shown earlier, he added.

Meanwhile, the brother of WCD minister and member of monitoring committee for MDM Khirod Mallick offered to resign during News@9 programme on OTV over dal scam.

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