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Ahead of polls, Tripura’s Left Front government clarifies 10 graft charges

Claiming it is transparent and is zero-tolerant about corruption, the state government issued a notice on its web portal on Monday negating the allegations against it.

india Updated: Nov 02, 2017 19:04 IST
Priyanka Deb Barman
Priyanka Deb Barman
Hindustan Times, Agartala
Manik Sarkar,Tripura,Tripura Government
Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar with senior CPI(M) leader Prakash Karat arrives to pay tribute at Birchandra Manu's memorial at Biloniya, some 60 kms from Agartala on Thursday. (PTI)

Manik Sarkar’s Left Front government in Tripura has published a clarification on 10 allegations of graft in an image makeover bid ahead of the assembly elections early next year.

The allegations include Rose Valley chit fund scam, multi-crore scam in four blocks, a pharmaceutical scam, illegal appointment of 10,323 teachers, anomalies in National Health Mission, rural employment guarantee scheme (MNREGA), and growth of private coaching business.

Claiming it is transparent and is zero-tolerant about corruption, the state government issued a notice on its web portal on Monday negating the allegations.

“The government is committed to improving the quality of life from grassroots level. There might be some incidents of irregularity, but the government responds such as taking action against employees involved in wrongdoings,” the notice said.

“Opposition parties are trying to mislead people by highlighting incidents of misrule of the Left government with a section of the media playing along. We have issued the clarification to minimise confusion among the people,” the state’s finance minister Bhanulal Saha said.

Allegations and clarifications

Rose Valley scam: Sarkar inaugurated the Rose Valley Park at Amatali on the outskirts of Agartala and also urged people to invest in the non-banking chit fund company. Social welfare minister Bijita Nath, also a Rose Valley agent, praised the activities of the company. But the firm duped many people of Rs 35-crore. The CBI probed the issue and it was alleged that five more ministers were involved in the scam.

Clarification: The government gave 37 Ponzi scam-related cases to CBI, but the agency accepted only five cases. Sarkar wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for CBI probe in the remaining 32 cases, but PMO said they were not feasible for investigation. Nevertheless, the government confiscated properties of Rose Valley including 126.412 acres of land, 124 LICI policies and Rs. 99,837 in various bank accounts.

Bishalgarh block scam: An audit report claimed that Rs. 2.20-crore was misappropriated in Bishalgarh rural development block. A case was lodged against former Bishalgarh block development officer Bimal Chakraborty and 11 other block officials. Chakraborty is brother of Democratic Youth Federation of India leader Amal Chakraborty, considered a close aide of Sarkar.

Clarification: Bimal Chakraborty and eight others were suspended and service of four MNREGA contractual employees terminated after a special audit pointed at misappropriation in January 2014. In total, 33 people were arrested though police filed 40 charge-sheets against 48 including 25 government employees.

Rupaicherri block scam: An audit report claimed Rs 14-crore was siphoned off from Rupaichari block. Payment was made twice (Rs 11.23-lakh and Rs 18.6-lakh) to more than one company for same brick soling of roads.

Clarification: Special audit was done in May 2013, and 17 of the 22 audit observations were settled while corrective actions were taken in 121 cases related to village committees.

Pecharthal block scam: Rs 12-crore including wages of MNREGA workers was allegedly embezzled in Pecharthal Block from April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2014.

Clarification: Special audit for 2012-13 and 2013-14 fiscals for the block and 12 village committees in Unakoti district was conducted. Based on the report, the district magistrate was asked to recover the misappropriated fund and initiate civil suit against the accused officials, in case recovery is not possible.

National Health Mission: Rs 30-crore sanctioned since 2009 for National Health Mission was allegedly misappropriated.

Clarification: The Tripura government releases funds to different agencies for implementation of NHM’s different schemes on receipt of fund from the Centre. So far, there is no instance of embezzlement of Rs 30-crore since NHM was started in Tripura.

Faulty recruitment of 10,323 teachers: Supreme Court terminated the jobs of 10,323 teachers that the government allegedly appointed illegally.

Clarification: Teachers were appointed till 2014 according to recruitment rules framed in 1970-71. The Right to Education Act, 2009 came into force in 2010 but in between, the government issued advertisements for teachers’ recruitment in 2002 followed by 2006 and 2009. Interview boards were constituted as per the Revised Employment Policy, 2003. According to recommendations by the board, 1,045 post graduate teachers, 4,666 graduate teachers in 2010 and 4,612 under-graduate teachers in 2014 were recruited. Some of the unemployed filed a writ petition in the high court, which asked the state government to frame a new employment policy but the verdict didn’t say there was any kind of corruption in the selection process. Accordingly, the government revised the recruitment policy for under-graduate teachers in 2014 and graduate and post-graduate teachers in 2016. Teachers’ Recruitment Board was constituted and teachers are being appointed following the RTE, 2009 and National Council for Teachers’ Education guidelines.

School education scam: Misappropriation of Rs 5-crore came to light under school education and Rashtriya Madhyamik Siksha Abhiyan. Rate of private tuition in Tripura is considered to be highest in the country due to poor quality of education in government schools.

Clarification: The government made an inquiry into alleged embezzlement of Rs. 359.72-lakh through withdrawal of 96 bearer cheques from two bank accounts. An FIR was lodged against Arnab Chakraborty, a cashier working under RMSA who was later suspended. He was arrested but released on bail. The case is still under investigation. Three other officials were also suspended after their involvement was discovered in the corruption.

Ginger procurement scam: Misappropriation of Rs 2-crore in Satchad block for procurement of ginger was alleged in 2011.

Clarification: FIR was lodged against 16 officials including former block devlopment officer Jiban Krishan Acharjee for misappropriating Rs 1.05-crore for purchasing 300,000 kg ginger. Disciplinary action was taken against another BDO of Ampi block for purchasing 322,000 kg ginger that led to wasted expenditure of Rs. 1.12-crore.

Adulterated medicines: The government was accused of buying adulterated medicines from a Himachal Pradesh-based pharmaceutical company.

Clarification: Vardhaman Pharma was detected to have produced fake documents to get the tender of medicines. As the company violated the Drugs and Cosmetics Act and Rules, the medicines were not received. Tests revealed the medicine samples were spurious. Case was lodged against the company and warrant issued by a local court. Disciplinary action was taken against the government health officials too for failure in identifying shortcomings of the company.

Social welfare scam: An internal report claimed misappropriation of Rs 300-crore in 32 blocks, of which Rs 115-crore was from MNREGA fund.

Clarification: Allegation is false. There is no fund placed for the social welfare department.

First Published: Nov 02, 2017 19:04 IST