BHUBANESWAR: Orissa women and child development minister Pramila Mallick on Saturday resigned from her post in the wake of allegation of Rs 700-crore scam in purchase of dal for mid-day meal [MMD] scheme and Supplementary Nutrition Programme (SNP).

Women and Child Development department is the nodal agency through which dal is being given to about 95 lakh beneficiaries including 50 lakh school children. “I have tendered my resignation on my own on moral grounds in the interest of the Biju Janata Dal [BJD] and to keep the clean image of the government intact. It is a sacrifice for the party and government. I am not afraid of any probe,” she said claiming that she was a victim of conspiracy.

Claiming that there was no pressure on her to resign, Mrs Mallick said she met the chief minister this morning and conveyed her desire to step down to prevent people from pointing fingers at the government “though state vigilance wing has given her a clean chit”. “Subsequently I sent my resignation letter,” she said.

Mrs Mallick, who had been a minister in the Naveen Patnaik cabinet since 2004, further said, “I was waiting for the vigilance report. The vigilance gave its report yesterday. It has no mention about my involvement. I hope my resignation will put a stop to the Opposition’s allegation,” she added.

Soon after the minister’s resignation, the chief minister ordered to file charges-sheets against former Deogarh collector Ambika Prasad Das and Mayurbhanj collector Pramod Meherda, based on the findings of a report by the vigilance department. He also ordered transfer of Balasore collector Manish Verma.

Feb 16 (IANS) A BJP delegation met Orissa Governor M.C. Bhadare Wednesday and submitted a memorandum seeking prosecution of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and his ministers over irregularities in the supply of pulses for children’s mid-day meal scheme.”We submitted a memorandum to the governor. He gave us a patient hearing and promised us that he will do the needful on the matter,” Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state unit president Jual Oram told reporters.

The party, in its memorandum, alleged that the government has been trying to protect the culprits by not taking any criminal action on the matter and not investigating the reported irregularities across the state, he said.

Describing the recent resignation of Pramila Mallik as the women and child development minister as “a mere eyewash”, the party said a fair inquiry can be conducted only by a central agency like the Central Bureau of Investigation.

The alleged scam came to light after the vigilance department last month claimed that there were irregularities in the purchase of pulses meant for children and women in the state under various welfare schemes.

Pramila Mallik resigned Feb 5 and at least three senior government officers face action over the scandal. The government has also ordered criminal proceedings against those who supplied the low quality pulses.

The BJP had earlier moved the state human rights panel, seeking health check-up of all children and women who consumed the infected pulses. The issue has also cast its shadow on the budget session of the state assembly, which began Monday, with the opposition disrupting the proceedings of the house and seeking resignation of Naveen Patnaik.

Oram said his party has requested the governor to take appropriate action for criminal prosecution of the chief minister and all other concerned, including ministers, secretaries of the departments and district collectors who are culpable for commission of the crime.

By Anupama

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