Srijan Mahila Vikas Sahyog Samiti Limited, an NGO in Bhagalpur that provides vocational training to women and sells pickles, allegedly pilfered funds from Bhagalpur district administration’s various accounts for at least half a dozen welfare schemes. All with the alleged connivance of government officials, bank employees and, of course, Srijan’s own staff.

Over 10 years and across two governments of JD(U) – BJP and RJD – JDU, the NGO siphoned off an estimated Rs 700 crore of public funds. There have been nine FIRs and 12 arrests in the case already.

One of the arrested accused in Bhagalpur Srijan scam case, Mahesh Mandal, died of cancer in a hospital today. Mandal had allegedly worked as a channel/medium between the bank, government, and Srijan by providing original bank statements to Manorama Devi (Founder Secretary of Srijan).

During the investigation, the Bihar police said that Mandal had admitted to receiving Rs. 3 crore as commission from Srijan over the last 15 years.

Case after such case is coming to light in the ongoing investigation that echoes the fodder scam related to withdrawal from district treasuries against fake bills and in Srijan’s case, it is, as per the FIRs, direct transfer of public funds to private accounts.

Among those arrested was the District Welfare Officer and investigators are wondering how and why auditors did not check such sustained “swindling” of government funds and why none of the nine District Magistrates, the sole custodian of these funds, waved a single red flag. Even the office of the Registrar of Cooperative Societies is under the scanner.

RJD president Lalu Prasad on Sunday demanded the resignation of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his deputy Sushil Kumar Modi, saying the state government had not taken any action on the “mega scam”. He also alleged that it was a “mega scam”, in which over Rs 15,000 crore of government money was looted.

The ruling JD(U), however, said the government had recommended a CBI probe into the issue following Prasad’s demand and the RJD chief should now be patient.

The finance department would conduct a special audit of the Bhagalpur district administration bank accounts from today to calculate the total amount of embezzled funds in the multi-crore Srijan scam.

The NGO was founded by Manorama Devi and is being run by her son and his wife after her death. The Bihar government has recommended a CBI probe into the scam.

 

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