Dal Scam: Orissa Minister Resigns After Meeting CM

Dal Scam: Orissa Minister Resigns After Meeting CM
The multi-crore dal scam today claimed its first victim with Orissa's Women and Child Development Minister Pramila Mallick resigning and action being initiated against three IAS officers over purchase of dal for the mid-day meal scheme and Supplementary Nutrition Programme (SNP).

Mallick's department was the nodal agency through which dal was being given to about 9.5 million beneficiaries including 5 million school children.

"The minister Mrs Pramila Mallick has submitted her resignation to me. I have forwarded it to the Governor for acceptance," Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik told reporters, adding action was also being taken against some collectors for their alleged involvement in it.

Chief Secretary B K Patnaik said a chargesheet would soon be filed against two collector level officers.

The action comes two days after the state anti-corruption vigilance department submitted its preliminary report on the Rs 700-crore dal scam.

"I have tendered my resignation on moral grounds on my own for the interest of BJD party and to keep the clean image of the government in tact," Mallick said after putting in her papers.

Keeping on hold the promotion of Deogarh Collector Ambika Prasad Mishra to the post of Revenue Divisional Commissioner (RDC) of Northern division, the government placed him as an officer without duty in the general administration department.

Mishra, during his tenure as collector of Deogarh, had floated tender for dal for two years and samples collected by vigilance department wing showed the dal was of substandard quality.

Similarly, former collector of tribal dominated Mayurbhanj, P K Meherda, was also found to be involved in the scam by the vigilance department.

"The government will initiate action against Meherda who is now heading the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) in the state. Meherda is now outside the state on some election duty," officials said.

Mishra and Meherda were not immediately available for comments.

Collector of Balasore district Manish Verma had been transferred and not given immediate posting, the chief secretary said, indicating that more action would be taken after the vigilance department submitted its final report.

Claiming that there was no pressure on her to resign, Mallick said she met the chief minister this morning and conveyed her desire to step down to prevent people from pointing fingers at the government though state vigilance wing has given her a "clean chit".

"Subsequently I sent my resignation. It is a sacrifice for BJD and the party government," she said.

Mallick, who had been WCD minister since 2004, said that she was waiting for the report of the vigilance department before quitting. "Vigilance has given me a clean chit but I have stepped down on moral grounds. I was not afraid of any probe," she said.

Her brother and NGO leader Khirod Mallick, had a few days ago resigned as the member of the state monitoring committee for MDM and SNP in wake of the scam.

The BJD government has also come under scathing attack from Opposition Congress and BJP in the face of the dal scam.
Next Story : Interim Budget Presented in TN Assembly
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