Former MP HC judge to probe ‘rice scam’

SHILLONG, Aug 4: The state government has appointed Justice (Retd) Mool Chand Garg of Madhya Pradesh High Court to head the independent inquiry into the rice scam that was unearthed in Assam over two months ago.
A notification in this regard was issued by the Chief Secretary, MS Rao, on July 29 after close to two months since the scam was exposed by media.
The terms of reference for the one man committee is to inquire into the matter of rice allotted to Milkcose (India) Limited for the supplementary nutrition programme (SNP) found in a private godown at Boko, Assam and seized by Assam police.
The Committee will also inquire into the quality of fortified supplementary nutrition programme food items being supplied to the children, pregnant and lactating women under the Integrated Child Development Service scheme (ICDS) and whether any testing is done and whether it is as per the norms.
It will also inquire whether the quantity of food reaching the beneficiaries is as per the norms.
The Committee has been asked to submit the report within a period of three months from the date of the issue of the notification and the Committee has been asked to submit interim reports and recommendations to the Government from time to time.
The Assam Police, it may be recalled, unearthed the scam by seizing several thousand bags of rice from a private godown in Boko of Kamrup district, Assam. Each bag contained 50 kg of rice.
Earlier, even the Union Ministry of Social Welfare wondered how the officials in Meghalaya claimed the rice for the past one year had been utilised when the state’s schools remained closed due to the pandemic.
The state government time and again has maintained that the rice was allotted by the Social Welfare Department from the Food Corporation of India to the approved manufacturer of food items under the SNP and the manufacturer lifted the allotted quota for the state to process it into micronutrient energy dense fortified food.
Retired Justice Garg was a judge in the High Court of Madhya Pradesh from 2011 till 2016.

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