Before the ruling Samajwadi Party has even had time to respond to the charges of indiscriminate land allotment, the Congress has fired another salvo at it, this time accusing it of a multi-crore foodgrains scandal.
Union minister Kapil Sibal has accused the regime of “systematic loot” by diverting foodgrains meant for below poverty line people in the state to Nepal and Bangladesh. He has demanded a CBI inquiry.
According to Sibal, the scam — which took place between August and December 2004 — saw private firms siphoning off foodgrains with the help of government officials. “It could not have happened without the active connivance of high functionaries in the state,” he said, adding: “Ninety per cent of the foodgrains given by the Centre never reached the beneficiaries…” The minister said the district magistrates of 30 districts had written to the state government about the misappropriation.
Sibal released copies of letters giving details of the movement of railway rakes for transporting wheat and rice to destinations abroad. One letter was from P.C. Chaturvedi, principal secretary, food and civil supplies, to railway authorities, expressing concern that indents for a “very large number” of railway rakes had been placed by private parties to move wheat and rice to Bangladesh. “We are concerned because presently, stocks of wheat/rice in the open market are not such as to fulfil the required loading capacity of these rakes,” he wrote in November 2004. The government recommended a CBI probe but later withdrew it.