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Mrunal Manmay Dash

Hearing a petition pertaining to alleged multi-crore OMFED scam, the Odisha Lokayukta has ordered the Crime Branch to conduct an investigation and furnish a preliminary report within three months of time.

The order was addressed to the Additional Director General (ADG) of the Crime Branch.

“With the serious allegations made in the complaint, which are based on a special audit report of January 15, 2019, the Odisha Lokayukta directs the Additional Director General of Police, Crime Branch, Odisha, Cuttack to conduct a preliminary inquiry for ascertaining whether there exists a prima facie case for proceeding further in the matter against any public servant,” the Lokayukta order read.

The Lokayukta further directed the Crime Branch ADG to ensure compliance with the order and submission of the preliminary inquiry report within three months.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Odisha Lokayukta had given clean chit to senior IAS officer Bishnupada Sethi in connection with the allegations of high-profile corruption in Odisha State Cooperative Milk Producers Federation (OMFED) in 2015.

As per reports, Sethi, the erstwhile CMD of OMFED was accused of being involved in 'corrupt practices' in the procurement of polythene pouches, causing losses to the milk producers federation to the tune of crores.

Speaking on the issue, senior lawyer Subrat Nanda said, “While the State government is busy taking credit on its supposedly ‘Zero Tolerance’ policy for corruption, the employees of the General Manager level have swindled hundreds of crores of rupees. This is a huge scam and the CB does not have the requisite power to solve it. It should be handed over to the CBI.”

Lawyer Priyadarshi Patnaik had filed a petition with the Lokayukta after no action was taken against the erring officials following a 2019 audit report which revealed that the Rs 207.44 crore was embezzled by senior officers of the OMFED between 2013 and 2018.

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