Orissa Women and Child Development Minister Pramila Mallick quit her post on Saturday in the wake of allegations of large-scale irregularities in procurement and supply of dal.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who accepted her resignation, also ordered action against the former Collectors of Deogarh and Mayurbhanj for their alleged involvement in the multicrore scam. “Action will be taken against whosoever is found guilty,” he said.
Ms. Mallick stepped down “owning moral responsibility” at a time the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party were targeting her as well as the Chief Minister.
The Opposition criticism grew after the Vigilance Department submitted an interim report giving details of the irregularities committed at various stages for procurement of huge quantities of dal for children in primary schools under the Mid-Day Meal (MDM) Scheme and for children in the age group 6 months-6 years, pregnant women and lactating mothers under the Supplementary Nutrition Programme (SNP).
Ms. Mallick, however, claimed that the vigilance inquiry had given her a clean chit. “I resigned as the Opposition parties were targeting our government and the Chief Minister.”
The Chief Minister said he had forwarded her resignation to Governor Murlidhar Chandrakant Bhandare.
Ms. Mallick's brother who heads a voluntary organisation, Khirod Chandra Mallick, earlier resigned as member of a 20-member State-level, MDM monitoring committee.
The Vigilance Department, which seized samples from various places in nine districts, found that poor quality dal was procured at a lower rate and supplied to various districts at a price higher than what was fixed by the government.
The government on Friday announced that it would overhaul the procurement mechanism from April 1.
However, neither the Congress nor the BJP is satisfied with the Minister's resignation. State Congress working president Chandra Sekhar Sahu said it came “too late” and demanded a CBI probe. Senior BJP leader Bijoy Mohapatra demanded that criminal cases be registered against all those involved in the scam.