Orissa’s women and child development minister Pramila Mallick resigned on Saturday over an alleged multi-crore scam related to the supply of dal (pulses) for mid-day meals and other welfare schemes for children and women in the state.
Mallick submitted her resignation to chief minister Naveen Patnaik who forwarded it to governor MC Bhandare for acceptance.
The massive irregularities in supply of dal came to light when the state vigilance department said after a probe last month that at least Rs100 crore was siphoned off last year by suppliers in just four districts — Mayurbhanj, Jajpur, Balesore and Ganjam.
The suppliers allegedly procured low quality dal at Rs25-30 a kg from outside the state, and then sold it to schools and anganwadi centres at the rate set by the state government, Rs75 per kg, making a profit of Rs45-50 on every kilogram.
According to a preliminary report submitted by the department last week, the suppliers provided low quality dal, no bidding was involved in choosing the suppliers and the number of students in both schools and anganwadi centres were inflated.
“The vigilance report has ruled out my involvement. Nevertheless, I have resigned on moral grounds because the opposition was unnecessarily targeting the chief minister and the government,” Mallick said.
The government on Friday blamed the scandal on government officials. The chief minister said strong action would be taken against those found guilty in the whole affair.
However, opposition parties have demanded a CBI probe into the alleged scam.
“It is the state government and not the collectors or lower level government officials who hiked the price of dal from Rs 36 to Rs 75. The chief minister also reviewed the tender process. How can they absolve themselves from the irregularities?” senior BJP leader Bijay Mohapatra asked, hitting out at the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) government. BJP and BJD were allies until two years ago.
Congress working president Lalatendu Bidyadhar Mohapatra also said Patnaik was washing his hands off the scam by ordering action against government officials.
“This is a scam worth more than Rs1,500 crore involving the whole government,” he said.