Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, Oct 1:
The state Cooperation and Excise minister Dr Damodar Rout today dropped a bombshell today when he said the Seashore Group, being currently probed by the CBI in the chit fund scam, had flourished under the patronage of the Odisha government, a fact that the ruling party leaders have been denying since the scam was broke out.
“The Seashore Group had the patronage of the state government. The company was handed over 11 hospitals through the state NGO committee. Besides management responsibilities of tourism spots and cold storages were given to the company. Whoever had given the permission…be it the then secretary or minister, the government is liable, since it is a collective responsibility,” said Rout to a local news channel.
This apart, the government had also signed an MoU with the Seashore Group to set up a power plant in the state and also allowed the company to set up a maize processing plant at Nabarangpur.
The minister said the hospitals were handed over to the Seashore group without the knowledge of the Health minister and without any formal government order.
“When I was Health minister, I inquired about the handing over of hospitals to a private company. I was told that as per NRHM provisions, the district level NGO committee headed by district collector and state level committee headed by Health secretary can make recommend NGOs to run hospitals without any permission of the minister concerned,” Dr Rout said.
The outpspoken leader named Rajya Sabha MP Pyari Mohan Mohapatra, the expelled BJD leader and one time close confidant of chief minister Naveen Patnaik, for his involvement in the scam.
“MP Pyarimohan Mohapatra was involved in all this since the Seashore CMD (Prashant Das) was a big follower of Mohapatra,” said Dr Rout.
However, Mohapatra rubbished the allegations and asked the minister to produce substantial evidence, if he had any at all, before the CBI team inquiring into the chit fund scam.
It is worthwhile here to mention that the Seashore company had opened 42 branches across the state and had invested in a number of projects including the Seashore group of hospitals, travel agencies, products, retail outlets, media business, credit cooperatives and multi-purpose projects.
The company is believed to have duped the people of the state to the tune nearly Rs 1500 crores. The central investigating agency has already conducted raids at various places connecting to the company.