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Foodgrain, carried on bikes

Ranchi, Aug. 24: Several thousand cattle and quintals of cattle-feed were claimed to have been delivered on scooters in the “fodder scam”.

Suppliers in Jharkhand continue to retain their fascination for motorcycles, scooters, oil tankers and jeeps, which a test audit of the CAG discovered, have been used to deliver foodgrain, this time in Gumla and Palamau districts.

Obviously, the supplies were made only on paper. Since the challans had to mention the number of the vehicles used, the suppliers took down the numbers of whichever vehicle they saw on the road and put them on the challans, not expecting to get caught. All of them, however, claimed to have used trucks and received payment for them.

The test audit took up only 56 consignments for the probe out of the 667 consignments dispatched and delivered in the two districts between November 2003 and March 2005. Had the audit been extended to the whole state as well as all the consignments, the extent of the scandal would perhaps have been even more shocking.

The findings, carried in the Comptroller & Auditor General’s report laid before the Assembly today, was routinely communicated to the government earlier for an explanation. It was after no explanation was offered or the explanation was found to be unsatisfactory that the findings were included in the report.

But the government had neither any comment nor any explanation to offer. It is also not clear what kind of action has been initiated against the suppliers.

Worse, the scandal relates to the centrally-sponsored Sampoorna Grameen Rojgar Yojana (SGRY), which is aimed at generating employment and ensuring food security for the poor.

In the absence of elected panchayats in Jharkhand, the only state in the country to have failed to conduct the election, the District Rural Development Authority (DRDA) has been implementing the scheme.

Significantly, the DRDA has not just the deputy commissioners but also the elected MLAs and MPs from the district as members. Block development officers are expected to certify the delivery and verify the challans.

The CAG report exposes corruption not just at the field level but at the top too. At the end of March 2004, the government had claimed that 26,457 schemes were pending under SGRY.

But the SGRY insists that all schemes be completed in the same year as they are taken up. But the audit team discovered that as many as 70,000 schemes, and not just 26,000 as claimed by the state, were pending in Jharkhand.

There is apparently no accountability for lying to the central government or to the people.

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