PATNA: The Bihar government’s ambitious scheme that aims at raising milk production by providing 50 per cent subsidy to people for buying cows is currently under an investigation for an alleged scam.
The state government’s animal husbandry department has initiated a probe into the allegations that most beneficiaries in the rural areas have been paid Rs 75,000 as the subsidy for two cows despite never having purchased any.
“A probe has been ordered in all the districts to verify the allegations of irregularities. A report on the findings of the probe will bring to surface the reality,” said animal husbandry department (AHD) secretary N Vijayalakshmi.
It was after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s prod that the investigation was ordered. During his ‘Lok Samvad’ (dialogue with the people) programme on Monday, Kumar was told by a social worker from Aurangabad district that the AHD scheme was riddled with holes and that the beneficiaries and officials concerned were together siphoning off the funds.
“While AHD officials put the price of two cows at Rs 1.5 lakh and give 50 per cent subsidy or Rs 75,000 to the beneficiaries, I have found that people in my area simply do not purchase any cows. They just borrow them from here and there in order to be photographed and then receive the subsidy by sharing the photographs with the government officials,” said Astik Sharma, who is also a former political leader.
Immediately after listening to Sharma’s account of the scheme’s implementation, Nitish Kumar asked the AHD secretary, who was present at the ‘Lok Samvad’ event, to initiate a probe.
Sources said the subsidy scheme for buying cows has been hit by massive irregularities in almost every district of Bihar both due to lack of monitoring and connivance of government officials and local politicians. AHD minister Pashupati Kumar Paras was not immediately available for a comment on the matter.
Bihar’s animal husbandry department is infamous for the Rs 1,000-crore fodder scam that surfaced in the mid-1990s and laid waste the political careers of two top politicians – former CMs Jagannath Mishra of Congress and Lalu Prasad Yadav of RJD. Both leaders have been convicted in fodder scam cases and sentenced to jail terms.