Sapling scam in Odisha is over Rs 100 crore: Ex-minister Dama Rout

Bhubaneswar: After creating a flutter recently by stating that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is in the midst of a ‘Chakravyuha’ (labyrinth) and he will have to regret for the sins being committed by his coterie, former Agriculture minister Damodar Rout, on Wednesday, triggered controversy once again by stating that sapling scam in the State is over Rs 100 crore.

After Agriculture Minister Pradeep Maharathy in the State Assembly yesterday accepted irregularities of Rs 17 crore, Rout today said the scam took place in almost all districts of Odisha and the actual amount could be over Rs 100 crore.

The senior BJD leader said while he was the Agriculture minister, Rs 59 crore worth organic manure was sanctioned for Mayurbhanj district but no saplings were planted. Later, a four-member committee investigated the matter and submitted a report following which he wanted to suspend the corrupt officials. However, the errant officials allegedly apprised the matter to their ‘godfather’ and escaped, he informed.

“A whopping amount of Rs 3.19 crore is with three clerks; the total scam amount will be around Rs 100 crore. Such corrupt persons should be put behind bars. Two officers from Sambalpur and Deogarh are behind a scam of Rs 99.64 lakh, but it was not mentioned,” alleged Rout.

Responding to Rout’s allegations, Maharathy said, “As a responsible minister, I answered the question that he (Dama Rout) had asked. The four-member committee had exposed the scam in Mayurbhanj which was Rs 17.33 crore. After getting the report, the officials were suspended but reinstated after many days.”

Maharathy also said that he will not spare any person found involved in corruption in his department as long as he is holding the position of a minister.