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Fodder scam ghost catches up with Jharkhand chief secretary

Verma, a Bihar cadre IAS officer of 1983-batch, is due for retirement next month and was widely expected to be given an extension in her post by Jharkhand’s Raghubar Das-led BJP government.

Published: 05th January 2018 08:25 PM  |   Last Updated: 05th January 2018 08:25 PM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

PATNA: Old charges pertaining to the fodder scam have landed Jharkhand chief secretary Rajbala Verma in trouble at the fag end of her career as an IAS officer.

Verma, a Bihar cadre IAS officer of 1983-batch, is due for retirement next month and was widely expected to be given an extension in her post by Jharkhand’s Raghubar Das-led BJP government. That appears unlikely now as the government issued her a formal showcause notice on Thursday, asking why departmental proceedings should not be initiated against her for alleged lapses on her part in letting the Rs 1,000-crore scam take place.

The CBI probe into the scam in undivided Bihar had found Verma’s role as the deputy commissioner (DC) of West Singbhum district suspect. During her tenure there between April 1990 and December 1991, she was the custodian of the district treasury, but she neither informed the accountant general about the fraudulent withdrawals from the treasury nor signed the audit reports, according to CBI. Verma also allegedly took no corrective steps.

RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, the main face of the fodder scam who was convicted for the second time last month, was chief minister of undivided Bihar during the scam period. Verma was reportedly close to Yadav, who later made her the DC of Patna district. After Jharkhand was carved out of Bihar in November 2000, Verma chose Jharkhand, where she is currently the senior-most bureaucrat.

Although as many as 15 showcause notices pertaining to the CBI charges were served to Verma by previous chief secretaries of Jharkhand between 2003 and 2014, she had ignored them all. She served in key bureaucratic posts, including as home and finance secretaries, and was reportedly in the good books of CM Raghubar Das for her enthusiasm in implementing the government’s programmes and proactive steps.

Sources said Das ordered issuance of the latest showcause notice to Verma on December 31 under pressure from a section of BJP leaders, mainly by food supply minister Saryu Rai. The notice, delivered to Verma on Thursday, gives her 15 days to reply.

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