Suppliers of pulses (dal) in Orissa have salted away at least Rs100 crore during the past year by swindling students and children covered under two government schemes, a probe by the state vigilance department has revealed.
This has been the finding after raids in only four districts of the state — Mayurbhanj, Jajpur, Balesore and Ganjam.
The modus operandi was this. The suppliers procured low-quality dal at Rs25-30 a kg from outside the state. They then supplied it to schools (mid-day meal scheme) and anganwadi centres (mother- and child-care centres) under the integrated child development scheme, and took the rate set by the government — Rs 75 per kg —making a cool profit of Rs45 a kg or more.
A supplier in Bhubaneswar provided dal worth Rs80 crore in just one year, but he did not go through any tender process to get the contract.
Three teams of the vigilance department raided more than 50 places including block offices, offices of the welfare department, the child development department, the premises of the suppliers and government officials. They also seized inferior dal from several schools and anganwadi centres.
The vigilance department may extend the probe to other districts.
The Centre funds the schemes to supply dal while the responsibility of execution lies with the state governments. Each of the 30 districts in the state got dal worth an average of R50 crore a year under the two schemes, a government official said.
The vigilance department stepped in after there were allegations of irregularities.
Talking to HT, Orissa director general (vigilance) Anup Patnaik said his department had found irregularities in the whole process. He did not rule out the connivance of government officials. "The extent of the damage and number of people involved can be assessed after a thorough enquiry."