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Odisha chit fund probe panel faces staff crunch


Bhubaneswar, March 26:

The one-man commission probing the multi-crore Odisha chit fund scam is facing a staff shortage, an official said Wednesday.

The chairman and the secretary of the commission have been working here with only three regular employees, four temporary staff members and five peons.

Justice RK Patra
Justice RK Patra

Although the panel, led by retired Sikkim High Court chief justice R.K. Patra, had requested the state government to provide six more staffers a long time ago, but no step has been taken yet.

“Our main hurdle is that we are not able to create a computer data base. We are doing all work manually,” commission secretary Devraj Rout told IANS.

The commission was appointed in May last year to probe the alleged fraud committed by chit fund companies and suggest ways to safeguard the interests of investors. It has received more than nine lakh complaints.

The tenure of the commission which has been extended a number of times will expire April 30. The commission has already sought extension for six more months as the probe is unlikely to be complete, he said.

Rout said the commission has so far served notices to about 300 companies and firms. Few of them have already presented their defence either by appearing physically or through their lawyers, he said.

The scam came to light two years ago after many investors complained that several firms collected huge amounts of money from them promising high returns, but later refused to pay them back as promised.

Although police raided offices of several such companies and arrested many people for irregularities, the government appointed the commission after coming under attack from opposition parties.

The companies accused of duping people include the Kolkata-based Saradha Group, and Odisha-based Seashore and Artha Tatwa groups. The loss from the scam is claimed to be running into crores of rupees.