Amid surging expectations, all eyes are set upon the Congress party, which is yet to form its government in Chhattisgarh after a massive electoral win, as activists hope the new dispensation will initiate a thorough probe into the multi thousand crore PDS scam, also referred to as NAN scam, which grabbed national headlines three years ago. Several high profile suspects have not been investigated yet.
The scam unearthed in March 2015 had cast aspersions on the Chhattisgarh government’s much touted PDS scheme, which provides Re 1 per kilogram rice to the poor families. Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) found in 2015 that the government was supplying low quality rice, gram and iodized salt to the poor households in the state. Interestingly, PDS had won the outgoing chief minister accolades and two successive electoral victories in 2008 and 2013. Three petitions seeking thorough investigation into the scam have already been filed in the Chhattisgarh High Court.
Activists suspects that the charge-sheet filed by the Chhattisgarh Economic Offences Wing (EOW) in the Special Anti-Corruption court of Raipur has several grey areas and cover up seems to be undergoing. Based on a diary recovered from Girish Sharma, an employee of Nagrik Apurti Nigam, the investigating agency arrested some low profile suspects while left the high profile untouched. Diary which has hand written entries of kickbacks running into several crores to different government officials, ministers, MLAs, and several high profile individuals. Diary which is part of EOW charge-sheet allegedly contains several entries specifically mentioning “Madam CM”, and “Madam C”. Police however said the woman mentioned as “Madam CM” could be the wife of a food department officer.
According to the diary which was recovered along with Rs 1.25 crore cash, the recipients of kickbacks include all DMs, secretaries, chief secretary and their subordinates. A specific entry in the diary states about money being paid to a ‘Madam’ in Aishwarya Residency, GE Road Raipur. It is alleged that this is the place where a close relative of Raman Singh resides. Congress party had promised a high level probe if voted to power. “It is the time ”, RTI activist Rakesh Chaubey said.
There is also a mention of ‘Nagpur wale Baba’ among the recipients. Several entries such as AJ, AS, SS, RM, can easily be identified with certain very powerful persons. Amount of kickbacks which used to be disbursed among the high profile individuals is such a voluminous that an entry in the diary mentioned the disbursal of Rs 263.72 crore in 2012-13 alone. However, only 16 pages out of 113 pages of 2012 diary have been disclosed. Remaining pages have been missing.
Arvind Dhruv, steno to key accused Shivshankar Bhatt, has categorically mentioned in his statement that three diaries with all the entries of payment of kickbacks were seized during the raid by the EOW officials on 12 February 2015.
EOW arrested Bhatt and 16 other out of 27 accused in the case, while the government approved prosecution of IAS officer Anil Tuteja and Dr. Alok Shukla in 2017. These two officials were the Chairman and MD of NAN (Nagrik Apurti Nigam or civil supplies corporation) respectively when the scam was unearthed in 2015. The EOW however, filed its charge-sheet on 15 June 2015 without even bothering to probe the role of Tutela and Shukla apart from the high and mighty recipients of kickbacks, Chaubey alleged.
EOW filed a supplementary charge sheet on 30 November 2018 in the court which had the names of Tuteja and Shukla who moved a bail application the same day which was summarily rejected by the court however. EOW claims it has traced the mobile call records of Tuteja, Shukla, KK Yadu, Shiv Shankar Bhatt, Sandip Agrawal, Munish Kumar Sahu, Girish Sharma and others and has transcriptions of their conversation regarding disbursal of money.