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Blame game over food scam

lucknow Updated: Dec 09, 2010 01:16 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times
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A political blame game has begun over a massive foodgrain scam after the Allahabad High Court recently told the CBI to probe the diversion of foodgrains meant for the poor under various centrally-sponsored schemes into the open market and smuggling of the essential items into neighbouring countries from 2001-05.

The scam, estimated around Rs 35,000 crore by the Mulayam Singh Yadav government in 2005, is currently spread over 41 of the Uttar Pradesh's 72 districts.

The scam began unravelling after HC's directive to the Central Bureau of Investigation and the UP chief secretary to give the necessary clearance within three months for prosecution of hundreds of state government employees and politicians involved in the crime.

Along with several state departments, officials of the Union ministries of warehousing and rural development are allegedly involved in the scam. Whistleblower Vishwanath Chaturvedi, who unearthed the scam and filed a PIL against the crime in January 2005 , said the scam is continuing.

Chaturvedi said on Tuesday that UP's panchayati raj, rural development, food and civil supplies departments and the railways and union ministries of warehousing and rural development were involved in the scandal. After Chaturvedi's PIL was filed, the matter was handed over to the economic offences wing of the UP Police by the then Samajwadi Party government.

In 2008, the BSP government headed by Mayawati set up a special investigation team (SIT) of the state police to probe the scam.

The SIT reported to the court that thousands of quintals of foodgrains meant for the poor were either sold in the open market or transported to other parts of the country and even smuggled.

Yadav, who headed the state in 2003-07, said on Tuesday that he had ordered an inquiry. "As soon as the issue came to my notice a probe was ordered and after investigation, 63 FIRs were registered against the guilty." He said the scam took place when the BJP-BSP alliance was in power in 2002-03. Mayawati said she had recommended a CBI probe in 2007 but the Centre did not accept it. No headway