Ever since it took over reins at Dispur in May last year, the Sarbanda Sonowal-led government has been encountering tens of thousands of 'ghosts' in welfare schemes run by various departments. During a review of the Social Welfare department's working in November last, the Chief Minister was aghast as details emerged of a whopping Rs 2,250 crore siphoned off by corrupt politicians and babus in the me of feeding around 9 lakh 'ghost' children for 15 years. Not just that, there were some 390 non-existent Anganwadi centres as well, for which government funds were being regularly skimmed away. Meanwhile, the Food and Civil Supplies department is on a hunt to weed out bogus ration card holders, a task made difficult by the fact that Aadhaar enrolment is yet to begin in the State, which in turn would have helped to digitally detect anomalies. In scheme after scheme under department after department, it turns out that corrupt officials have created armies of 'ghost' beneficiaries, and pocketed funds in their me. Now the Education department is on a mission to root out fictitious students from various government schools, issuing dire warnings to principals and headmasters that they will be held to account if such 'ghosts' are found in their rolls. And well they should be, considering that huge funds are being spent in feeding these 'ghost' students with mid-day meals, clothing them with school uniforms and supplying them with free textbooks!
Hunting for 'Ghosts'