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Congress rule marked by Social Welfare loot

Standard procedures went for a six, materials procured at highly inflated rates, food for anganwadi children not provided for stipulated 300 days, big players cornered departmental contracts

BY OUR STAFF REPORTER

GUWAHATI, Jan 31: During the rule of previous Congress government in Assam, there were large-scale fincial irregularities in procuring materials by Social Welfare department from firms. Standard procedures were violated and there were lapses galore in the procurement process.

Sources said umbrellas meant for distribution among anganwadi workers and students were procured at far higher than prevailing market prices. Each umbrella meant for anganwadi workers was procured at Rs 575, while its market value ranged from Rs 100 to Rs 150 at that time. Similarly, each umbrella meant for anganwadi students was procured at Rs 450, while the market price of the same at that time was around Rs 150.

In the me of procurement of other items like toys and small sized balls by the Social Welfare department during the Congress regime, large amounts of public money were siphoned off. Almost all such products were procured almost double the market prices prevailing at the time.

Regarding provision of food for anganwadi children for 300 days in a year, some anganwadi kendras provided food to children for less than the stipulated number of days. As per rules, food and ‘take home ration’ should be given to children of certain ages by an anganwadi kendra for 300 days a year, sources pointed out.

They further informed that large-scale anomalies took place in allotment of contracts to contractors for construction of anganwadi kendras during the Congress regime. Despite the tendering process, a section of influential contractors maged higher-ups of the Social Welfare department to corner contracts, said sources, adding that after bagging contracts, these big contractors parceled out sub-contracts to others, which resulted in poor quality of construction of many anganwadi kendras across the State.

So far, 25 persons have been interrogated by vigilance and anti-corruption wing of Assam Police in connection with the suspected Rs 2,250 crore scam in Social Welfare department. On Monday, former Social Welfare Minister and a powerful member in the previous Congress government, Gautam Roy was grilled by vigilance and anti-corruption sleuths. On January 20 last, Akon Bora, who was also the minister of the same department in another period, was called for interrogation. Another former minister of the same department Ajanta Neog will be quizzed in the same case on February 6 next.

If the scope of investigation is widened, more influential persons could fall in police net, said sources.

During Congress rule in Assam, AGP MLA Phanibhusan Chowdhury on many occasions raised the issue of massive irregularities in Social Welfare department in connection with the procurement of different materials, but the Tarun Gogoi government paid no heed.

The suspected scam in the Social Welfare Department came to light recently during a review meeting called by Chief Minister Sarbanda Sonowal.

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Ankur Kalita