Congress Lok Sabha MP from Shillong Parliamentary Constituency Vincent H Pala on Thursday demanded an independent inquiry into the alleged food grain scam.
This came after the Assam police had recently seized one lakh bags of rice meant for the state of Meghalaya from a private godown in Boko of Kamrup district, Assam. Each bag contained 50 kg of rice.
Speaking to media persons, Pala said that the National People’s Party (NPP) had recently advised the people of the state to consume only rice and vegetables but how will people survive if the rice is diverted and are left with only vegetables to eat.
“My request to the state government is that it should set up an independent inquiry to come out clean since it (allegation related to the rice scam) has come out in the media and that a case has already been registered in Assam,” he added.
He said if the state government is saying that nothing has happened and that it has already lifted the quota from the Food Corporation of India (FCI), the question is how they are utilizing the rice allotted for midday meal in view of the closure of the schools in the state.
“…may be because there must have been excess rice, they must have misused it, I don’t know but that the inquiry will tell,” he added.
According to him, 2,560 tons of rice is being allotted to the state on a quarterly basis for over 3.85 lakh students in primary schools and 1.5 lakh students in upper primary schools.
On the other hand, the Congress leader also slammed the United Democratic Party (UDP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for keeping mum on the issue related to the scam.
“The UDP is very active on the issue regarding the MeECL where I have seen the Assembly Speaker Metbah Lyngdoh and Jemino Mawthoh writing to the CM for setting up the independent inquiry but not on this issue. Therefore, UDP has to come out clean as it is holding this portfolio,” he said.
Pala continued, “The BJP is also silent on this issue despite the matter being related to the midday meal and supplementary nutrition programme of the Centre. There is a need for the government to give a proper explanation and clear the air.”
According to him, people as of now are confused whether the rice belongs to the Food Civil Supplies & Consumer Affairs, the Social Welfare Department, midday meal or the supplementary nutrition programme.
“People have lost their trust in the government so the only way is that they should set up an independent inquiry so that the government can come clean on whatever is happening – this is my suggestion,” he reiterated.
Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma had earlier maintained that there was no scam involved in the implementation of the Supplementary Nutrition Programme (SNP) as alleged following the seizure of rice meant for the state in neighbouring Assam.
He had also urged the Press and NGOs to get all the facts before coming up with such stories to avoid confusion among the citizens of the state.
Reacting to this, the Shillong MP said that the Chief Minister cannot make such a claim and that he should consider instituting an independent inquiry.
“The press cannot go and access the government files. If you can access the file you can see from where the demand comes from, where supply comes and where it is being utilized, where it has been used or consumed – then only people will be satisfied with it,” he added.