The Mayawati Government on Thursday sought to remove misgivings regarding the enormity of the foodgrain scam in Uttar Pradesh by placing on record the allotment made to the State by the Central Government under the various schemes in 2004-05 and in preceding and subsequent years. It sought to clarify that the magnitude of the scam was much less than what was being projected in a section of the media.
Dwelling on the enormity of the scam, reports in a section of the media have put its magnitude at Rs. 35,000 crore to Rs. 2 lakh crore, alleging that it even outstrips the much talked about 2G spectrum scam.
State Principal Secretary (Information) Vijay Shanker Pandey told reporters here on Thursday that the total allotment of foodgrain to the State under Sampoorn Gramin Rozgar Yojana (SGRY), Below Poverty Line and Mid-day Meal Scheme in terms of money in one year was around Rs.2,000 crore. He did not, however, rule out the possibility of some foodgrain being diverted or siphoned off.
The Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court in its order dated December 3 had directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to conduct an inquiry into the foodgrain scam in Gonda, Lucknow and Varanasi.
The High Court directed the CBI to complete the probe within six months. The CBI inquiry will cover the foodgrain diverted in the three districts from March 2004 to October 2005.
For the record, the CBI is already conducting a probe into the scam in Lakhimpur Kheri, Ballia and Sitapur. The scam was related to diversion of foodgrain (wheat and rice) meant for the poor under the SGRY and BPL schemes in 2004-05.
In investigations conducted earlier in the scam, a total number of 244 FIRs were lodged in 19 districts by the special investigation team, Economic Offences Wing of UP Police, the district police and the CBI.
The scandal involved diversion of grains totalling Rs.60.34 crore.
According to the figures supplied by the State Government on Thursday, 30.14 lakh metric tonne of wheat amounting to Rs.1,284 crore and 18.07 lakh metric tonnes of rice amounting to Rs.973.75 crore was allotted to UP in 2004-05 under the SGRY, BPL, APL, Antavodaya and Mid-day Meal schemes.
In 2005-06, the allotment of wheat and rice to the State under these Central schemes was 23.38 lakh tonnes wheat (Rs.931 crore ) and 25.37 lakh tonnes rice (Rs.1292 crore ).
Mr. Pandey said the figures of foodgrain supplied to UP under these schemes in the preceding and subsequent years were also available with the government.
While the grains allotted under SGRY from 2001 to 2007 was worth around Rs.1174 crore, under the BPL scheme the allotment was between Rs.1500 and 1600 crore.
Since only wheat is allocated under the Mid-day Meal Scheme, it was estimated to be around Rs.300 crore.
Stating that the government was committed to obeying the High Court's order, Mr. Pandey said Chief Minister Mayawati is of the firm view that the guilty need to be punished irrespective of the scandal's magnitude.