Opposition demands CBI inquiry into book scam

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Bhubaneswar,Mar 17 (UNI) Alleged corruption in purchase of books by the government today created a furore in the Orissa Assembly with the Opposition Congress demanding a CBI inquiry and the treasury bench urging the Speaker to either constitute a House Committe or ask the Library Committee to probe the scam.

Raising the issue during the discussion on the admissibility of an adjournment motion and calling attention motion by the treasury bench, Mr Anup Sai(Cong) said a syndicate was operating behind the racket and demanded CBI inquiry to find out the truth.

Mr Mahesh Sahu (BJP) demanded the authorities to dissolve the Book Selection Committee and Purchase Committee. He suggested that either a House committee or the library committee should be asked to inquire into the incident. His party colleague Baidhar Mallik supported it.

Mr Sambhunth Naik(Ind) said since the Chief Minister, the Culture Minister and former School and Mass Education Ministers and a former Chief Secretary were involved in the corruption either a CBI or a judicial inquiry should be ordered to find out the truth.

However, replying to the motion Culture Minister Surya Naran Patro and School and Mass Education Minister Sanjiv Sahoo denied any irregularitiy in the purchase of books and said the allegation was incorrect, imaginary, baseless, politically motivated and made to tarnish the government's image.

Both the ministers said there was no question of corruption as no books were purchased during 2007-08.

While Mr Patro said neither any book was purchased nor any order was placed for purchasing during 2007-08, Mr Sahu said the process was for purchasing books worth Rs 1.40 crore was on by the Oriya Bhasa Pratisthan. But no decision had been taken yet.

Mr Sahoo said earlier some books were purchased by his department through open tender and no allegation of corruption was received.

He said Orissa High Court had already convicted a person for making false allegation and fined him Rs 50,000. The Lok Pal had already dismissed a similar case filed by some other people, he said.

The Culture Minister said the allegation was the fallout of fighting between the two groups of publishers and urged the Speaker to move a resolution to condemn the newspaper which had published such a report.

Moving the adjournment motion, Mr Umesh Swain(Cong) said Rs 1000 crores corruption was made in the purchase of books by the Culture and the School and Mass education department.

Mr Swain said the books were purchased violating the rules.

He said the books were purchased without tender and the publishers were exempted from VAT and EMD. He said the Chief Minister, Culture Minister, former school and mass education Minister and a former Chief Secretary were involved in it.

Mr Sitakant Mohapatra (Cong) supported Mr Swain and said some particular publishers were shown favour while purchasing the books.

Mr Pradeep Maharathy (BJD) ruled out the involvement of either the Chief Minister or any minister in the corruption. He, however, said some employees of the culture department were involved in the corruption and demanded action against them.

After listening to the members Deputy Speaker Prahald Dora rejected the adjournment motion.

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