Odisha CMO orders inquiry into sal seed purchase ‘scam’
MLA claims irregularities of around Rs 6.5 crore done in procurement
ROURKELA: The Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) has ordered an inquiry into the allegations of irregularities in the procurement of sal seeds by the Tribal Development Cooperative Corporation (TDCC) Ltd in Sundargarh district.
On June 28, Talsara MLA and BJP’s Sundargarh organisational president Bhawani Shankar Bhoi had written to the district collector and the CMO alleging involvement of an influential political person in the scam who reportedly gave undue preference to a few selected self-help groups (SHGs) in the procurement. He also blamed the nexus of some SHGs and middlemen for the irregularities.
After being instructed by the CMO, the Forest department on July 14 asked the ST/SC Development and Panchayati Raj departments to probe into the allegations and take appropriate action.
Talking to this paper, Bhoi alleged that during the procurement of sal seeds from June first week to July first week, irregularities of around Rs 6.5 crore were committed by paying the tribal primary collectors much less than the MSP of Rs 20. Without naming anyone, he blamed the patronage of a political person for the scam.
“A few selected SHGs were allowed to procure most of the sal seeds. The SHGs and other procurement entities illegally tied to middlemen procured seeds at Rs 10-Rs 12 per kg from primary collectors and sold those to TDCC at full MSP,” alleged the MLA.
Sal seed is procured under a central scheme of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs with the TDCC being the nodal agency. Amid bumper crop this year, a total of around 80,000 quintals were procured from 11 blocks of Sundargarh.
TDCC district manager Laxmidhar Pal said 133 SHGs, 110 Van Suraksha Samitis (VSSs), 114 Van Dhan Vikash Kendras (VDVKs) and two tribal entrepreneurs participated in the procurement. The SHGs, VSSs and VDVKs were recommended by their respective block development officers, divisional forest officers and three Integrated Tribal Development Agencies in Sundargarh, Pal said and added that he cannot comment on the allegations of the Talsara MLA.
Several primary collectors including Manoj Xess, Basumati Kisan and Bisra Lakra said they were unaware of the MSP for sal seed. “We sold our stock for Rs 10-Rs 12 per kg after being told that the market price was less than Rs 12,” they claimed.