Puri: Like the fodder scam in Bihar, Odisha has come across 'Ration Card Scam'. Massive discrepancies in the public distribution system (PDS) in the State have come to the fore in the aftermath of Cyclone Fani with fresh reports from Gop block of Puri district revealing that tonnes of rice meant for the cyclone-victims were embezzled allegedly by using fake ration cards in their names.
One of the cases in point is a beneficiary from Andara Ichhapur village, Bishnupriya Nayak who was till date unaware that she had a ration card.
Post Fani, a total of 1,747 beneficiaries in the panchayat were identified to be provided with 50kg rice and Rs 3000 each as relief. However, it was found that rice has been distributed to all, while 47 beneficiaries did not go to the panchayat office to collect the relief money.
When an investigation was initiated in this connection, local ration card dealer Kaluram Jena was found to have embezzled tonnes of rice using ration cards of these 47 beneficiaries. Jena was later suspended.
"A ration card was used in my name but we came to know about it after 3 years. Neither was I given the card, nor did I get any benefits. It was when the Supply Inspector pointed out about having double ration cards in my name, the actual matter came to fore," said Bishnupriya.
"Some of the beneficiaries did not come to collect their relief money. While 22 persons have been identified so far, I haven't received any complaint from anyone," said Banaranjan Patnaik, Sarpanch of Andara Ichhapur panchayat.
Not only Gop block, similar allegations also surfaced from Puri municipality. Here, out of the 32,200 beneficiaries, 1500 card holders are yet to receive the Rs 2000 cyclone relief fund.
Reports claim that 15,932 quintal rice has been distributed to the beneficiaries. Now questions have been raised that some beneficiaries in the municipality area have been left out, replicating the Gop ration card scam.
While the Executive Engineer of Puri municipality has ordered to launch a probe subject to the 1500 'fake' beneficiaries, district Supply Inspector said that stringent action will taken if allegations are found true.
Earlier on Wednesday, quintals of flattened rice (chuda) meant for distribution among the Cyclone Fani-hit victims of seven panchayats of Krushna Prasad block in Puri district were dumped by local administration near Chilika coast. It is being alleged that due lack of timely distribution of the stocks, the relief got damaged and later buried by the administration at the backyard of Pantha Niwas in Chilika coast.
However, Block Development Officer (BDO) of Krushna Prasad block Abhimanyu Majhi refuted the allegation and said that the flattened rice stocks were damaged in cyclone-triggered rain and was unfit for consumption.