WB Health project scam,Action after Vigilance findings-Naveen

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Bhubaneswar, Jan 24 (UNI) Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today said action will be taken against minister and the officials involved in the World Bank funded health project scam on the basis of the findings of the vigilance inquiry.

The Chief Minister said the vigilance department was looking into the matter and appropriate action would be taken after the report was received.

Mr Patnaik said a few weeks ago the Chief Secretary had written to the World Bank to name the minister who according to their report has been paid money to clear the bill.

He said some WB officials met the Chief Secretary today and discussed the matter and action would be taken on the basis of the vigilance report.

The WB in its Direct Implementation Review(DIR) pointed out that an agency implementing the health project had given a bribe of Rs 5 lakh to a minister to clear an equipment purchase bill.

The report said some of the equipment purchased was hazardous and the civil constructions were not upto the standard.

The project was initiated in 1998 and ended in March 31,2006 after two years of extension. Rs 111 crore still remained unutilised.

After the report was published it created a furore in the state and the state government constituted a three-member fact finding team on January 14 headed by Chief Secretary Ajit Tripathy to inquire into the allegation.

However, four days later Chief Minsiter Naveen Patnaik ordered the vigilance inquiry in to the incident.

The Chief Secretary told reporters here today the WB team had told him that the money was paid to the minister during July in 2005. He said during that period Mr Bijayashree Routray was holding the portfolio.

Mr Tripathy refused to say anything stating that the matter was under the investigation of the Vigilance Department and the Chief Minister would take a final decision on the allegation received by the WB.

He said a nine-member team of the Bank headed by its South Asian Director John A Roome and K Ravi Shankar gave this information during a discussion here.

The Chief Secretary said after verification of the record it was found that Mr Bijay Shree Routray had held the portfolio of Health at that time. Mr Routray was sworn in as a minister in 2004 and was dropped from the cabinet in May, 2006.

Reacting to the development Mr Routhray said there was no evidence of prima facie against him in the scam adding that it was a conspiracy to make him a scape goat. He said it was improper to name any one before the inquiry of the vigilance department ordered by the government.

UNI BD DP PC/src RL VC2229

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