Govt delaying probe in pulses scam: Cong

Bhubaneswar: Accusing state government of delaying probe in pulses scam for destruction of evidence, Congress on Thursday alleged price cartel controlling rates of commodities supplied for programmes like mid-day meal scheme.

"Probe into irregularities in purchase of `dal` for MDM and other schemes has been deliberately made slow to allow those involved in the scam to destroy evidence," Prasad Harichandan, Congress Chief Whip in state assembly told reporters here.

Similarly action against those involved in the irregularities in supply of `dal` for midday meal and supplementary nutrition programme (SNP) is not being taken to give them ample time to tamper with documents, he charged.

Harichandan said Congress would intensify the stir against the Naveen Patnaik government over dal scam during the second phase of assembly`s budget session next week as the party has concrete proofs regarding the irregularities.

Claiming that a price cartel exists for various programes like midday meal scheme and SNP, Harichandan alleged traders, suppliers and officials up to ministers and chief minister were now involved.

Slamming the chief minister over fixation of prices of various items, the Congress leader claimed that Patnaik had in mid-2009 written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking hike in `arhar` dal price for midday meal from Rs 36/kg to Rs 70/kg though its market prices ranged between Rs 48 to Rs 58 per kg.

"On what basis Patnaik sought increase in price," Harichandan wondered adding the government later raised `arhar` dal price to Rs 75 a kg in January, 2010.

Interestingly the then Revenue Divisional Commissioner (RDC), Sambalpur in November, 2010 pointed out that the market price of `arhar` dal ranged between Rs 45-50 per kg.

"Purchase of dal at much higher price ignoring RDC`s observation clearly proves there is a cartel determining the rate," Harichandan said adding earlier the state government had switched over from `mung dal` to `arhar` without any valid reason.

He said the chief minister must give explanation to people about the matter.