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Rs 1-crore meal scam

Raiganj, Oct. 3: An officer at the block level and a data entry operator in North Dinajpur have been showcaused after a preliminary inquiry revealed their alleged role in a Rs 1.2 crore mid-day meal scam.

The joint BDO of Karandighi, Durjay Chakraborty, and data entry operator of the Swarna Jayanti Swarojgar Yojna Tapan Mondal were showcaused by the subdivisional officer of Islampur on Friday. They were told to reply within seven days why they had transferred Rs 6 lakh to the accounts of two self-help groups that did not prepare mid-day meal for a single day under the central scheme that aims to provide free nutrition to children and check dropouts in primary schools.

The SDO, Partho Ghosh, has also filed an FIR against Mondal who allegedly fled the area.

For the past two months, the SDO had been receiving complaints from various self-help groups, which said they were not being paid by the block administration that always turned them away on the pretext that there are no funds. Karandighi has around 1,300 such groups. Each block gets Rs 1-1.2 crore on an average in a financial year for the mid-day meal scheme.

Deputy magistrate Priyashankar Saha who had conducted the inquiry said in his report that Rs 6 lakh was sanctioned to the two self-help groups who had not cooked food for a single day. “It is not possible to get money credited to the account of these two self-help groups without active involvement of block-level officials,” an officer quoted the report as saying.

Joint BDO Chakraborty said: “The money had been sanctioned to the two self-help groups by mistake. I had admitted the mistake before to the deputy magistrate.”

According to sources in the subdivisional office, serving mid-day meals has come to a close in several schools because of lack of funds. The inquiry was started only after the groups lodged written complaints. District magistrate Sunil Dandapat said action would be taken against the joint BDO only after going through his reply to the show-cause notice.

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