That the massive feeding programs which are going in this country for quite some time is a "golden goose" for at least some people like the private manufacturers and the controlling "babudom" , is well known. Why the governments at the center and states close their eyes to such blatant corruption is also known, the main reason being the unholy nexus between the politicians in power aided by the babus and the manufacturers with no conscience regarding the harm they are doing through their devious practices. Under the guise of economic liberalization, governments in almost all states have roped in private manufacturers for supply of nutritious food to beneficiaries under various state sponsored feeding programs, most of them being children. On the other hand they have systematically sidelined their own specially set up organizations, in many cases forcing them to wind up in absence of adequate funds. The consequences are there for every body to see! If an estimate is to be made regarding the looting of public funds through such apparently "noble' schemes, it could run into thousands of crore of rupees! A recent report from Orissa typically exemplify this national malaise.
"The Orissa Vigilance Directorate has submitted a status report in the High Court on its probe into the multi-crore pulses scam, saying pecuniary advantages to the tune of nearly Rs 20 crore were made by government officials by showing undue favours to traders. According to the Directorate, pecuniary advantages to the tune of Rs 19.62 crore were made by certain government officials by showing undue favour to private suppliers and traders in the districts of Balasore, Jajpur, Ganjam, Mayurbhanj and Deogarh. As a result, poor and substandard quality of pulses were supplied during implementation of feeding schemes in 2009-10 and 2010-11, said the report submitted yesterday. School students, children, pregnant and nursing mothers coming under midday meal (MDM), supplementary nutrition programme (SNP) and emergency food programme (EFP) in these districts were provided with mould-grown and substandard pulses, it said. The report further said that at least one criminal case each was registered in all these districts in which a total of 34 accused persons were arrested ever since the vigilance registered cases over the scam earlier this year. "All the arrested persons were, however, released on bail as per orders of the High Court, the report said. The investigating officers have also examined at least 87 witnesses and seized a total of 152 documents from all the five districts, the report said, adding further investigation in the cases are on. Detailing the findings from each of these districts, the report said samples collected from different feeding centres were sent for laboratory tests to Bhubaneswar-based State Drugs Management Unit. "In most of the samples, the analytical reports said the pulses did not confirm to the prescribed standard and were highly infected and of poor quality due to presence of insects in it," the report said. The irregularities in supply of pulses was brought to the notice of vigilance sleuths by Bari MLA Debashis Naik last year. The then Women and Child Development minister Pramila Mallick resigned over the scam, the state government took action against three district (Deogarh, Mayurbhanj and Balasore) collectors".
Is it not a sorry state of affairs in this country that despite tons of evidence regarding the corruption being indulged in by "the high and the mighty", these criminals roam around the country in style with least impunity, regret and remorse? They can be rightly called the "Merchants of Death", as these unsafe foods can cause health damage and eventual mortality in the long run. Will the curse and desperation of millions of kids, who are deprived of their legitimate share of food provided from public funds, ever spare these culprits in the long run? May be the citizens in this country are no where to go except the God!