Friday, June 14, 2013

Rs 6,000 crore scam in tribal welfare schemes;Bombay HC orders probe


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Bombay HC orders probe into scam in tribal welfare schemes

Jun 14, 2013, 04.30AM IST TNNShibu Thomas ]

MUMBAI: The Bombay high Court on Thursday rapped the Maharashtra government for its tardy response to allegations of Rs 6,000 crore scam in tribal welfare schemes and ordered a CBI probe into it.

Rejecting the CBI's pleas that it was short staffed, a division bench of Justice V M Kanade and Justice R P Soundurbaldota directed the agency to inform it of the number of officers it would require to undertake the probe.

"In normal circumstances, this court would not have liked to intervene in this matter. But when the state and the police machinery are unwilling to act despite serious allegations, then it is the duty of the court to interfere," said the judges, who reserved their toughest words for government officers asking them to have ``some conscience".

"People belonging to the various tribes come from the lowest rung of the society. The least the state can do is provide them with food. It is shocking that there is a scam here too. Money is disbursed but it never reaches the people it is meant for," the judges said.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Nashik resident Bahiram Motiram who alleged a scam and misappropriation of funds in Maharashtra Tribal Development department where money meant for the welfare of tribals was not utilised for its intended purpose.

The PIL referred to documents obtained under the Right To Information Act, which showed a day after the department proposed to distribute protein supplements, around Rs 11 crore was disbursed without calling for tenders. Moreover, the liquid protein bottles which were purchased were not distributed. Around 1.23 lakh gas burners were purchased at Rs 2,000 each when the market price was around Rs 800. Around Rs 6.30 crore was spent on supply of mats to ashram schools in 2006 - while mats were available for Rs 200-Rs 300, the price quoted was Rs 1,930 per mat. The petition also alleged irregularities in the distribution of cows and buffaloes to tribals and in the supply of diesel engines to farmers.

The court slammed the government for its inaction. ``No steps were taken despite the fact that the Prime Minister and other union Ministers had written letters asking the state to look into the allegations. The court allowed the state to conduct an independent inquiry into the allegations and submit a report in two weeks time.