BJP seeks probe into dal scam by SC committee

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Bhubaneswar, Jan 27 (PTI) Alleging a Rs 700 crore scam insupply of pulses for mid-day meal (MDM) and similar schemes inOrissa due to flouting of court directives, BJP today sought aprobe into it by a Supreme Court committee.

Accusing the state government of flouting proceduresprescribed by Supreme Court and Orissa High Court onprocurement of pulses, senior BJP leader Bijoy Mohapatra toldreporters that sub-standard and adulterated pulses weresupplied for MDM and Supplementary Nutrition Programme (SNP).

The apex court on a petition by Peoples Union for CivilLiberties (PUCL) had ordered in 2004 that contractors wouldnot supply food, mainly for Integrated Child DevelopmentScheme(ICDS) programmes but Orissa government had continued toviolate the directive, he said.

The irregularities continued for the past 8 years forschemes implemented by women and child development departmentinvolving 1.06 crore beneficiaries as the state governmentfailed to take any step despite its affidavit in SupremeCourt, he said.

The state government also failed to take action on theMay 2010 High court directive for scrutiny, monitoring andverification to ensure continuous supply of quality arhar dalat reasonable prices, Mohapatra said.

Though HC ordered formation of a committee comprisingsecretaries of civil supplies, agriculture and WCD to monitorsupply of pulses, no action was taken in this regard, he said.

Claiming that around Rs 525 crore was spent forpurchase of about 70,000 ton pulses annually, the BJP leadersaid irregularities to the tune of Rs 700 crore took placeiprocess for which officials, WCD minister and Chief MinisterNaveen Patnaik are responsible.

"Since the state government had been rejecting demands forCBI probe into several other scams, the Supreme Court shouldform a committee to probe serious irregularities committed insupply of dal," he said adding state vigilance wing too hadalso provided some information on it.

Reacting to the charges, the chief minister said "We arewaiting for report from the anti-corrpution vigilance wing... and action will be taken." .

Coming down heavily on WCD Minister Pramila Mallick, Mohapatra said her brother Khirod has been made a member ofthe state-level monitoring committee for MDM scheme inviolation of established norms.

Stating that the chief minister had wrongly approvedthe monitoring committee, he said Pramila Mallick should notcontinue as minister and it was up to Naveen Patnaik to take adecision about her fate.

Refuting the allegation, Mallick said her brother wasmember of the monitoring committee on his own capability andnot as her brother.

Besides, he is also a member of an international NGO,the minister said adding guidelines set by Supreme Court andOrissa High Court were followed in the procurement ofpulses.

District collectors, secretary level officers toministers and chief minister are responsible for themulti-crore scam and should be punished, Mohapatra said.

Reacting to BJP''s allegation, state agricultureminister Damodar Rout said the chief minister has taken thematter seriously and was contemplating modification in theprocess of pulse procurement.

Director of Vigilance wing Anup Patnaik saidraids had been conducted in over a dozen places and primafacie evidence of irregularities were found.

''''If required, our team will go directly to dalsuppliers outside the state,'''' he said.

Preliminary investigation showed that the suppliershad provided pulses inferior to the samples they had shownearlier, he added.

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