Latest scam in Madhya Pradesh

Author: 
L.S. Herdenia

While Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is continuing his Ashrivad Yatra, two controversial events have hit the headlines. One relates to the supply of shoes to tribals and the other about the dispatch of over one crore letters addressed to women voters of the state.
The state government had gifted shoes and chappals to tribals. It is alleged that a banned chemical has been used in theses footwears. It is learnt that Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI) has reported the use of azo, a banned chemical in the inner sole of the footwear, a local news report said, triggering a denial by the state government.
Tribals make up 21 percent of MP’s population and a whopping 50 percent in some districts like Dhar, Jhabua and Mandla. Both BJP and Congress have been desperately wooing tribal voters and distribution of footwear was one of the recent sops announced by the state government.
Madhya Pradesh Laghu Vanopaj Sangh, a cooperative body involved in the distribution of the footwear, had sent samples of it for testing to CLRI, a wing of Central Science & Industrial Research (CSIR), after delivery, said sources.
Forest minister Dr. Gaurishankar Shejwar, however, said that the samples were tested before and after distribution by Footwear Development & Design Institute, Noida and an institute in Chennai but none of them detected any harmful chemical. “These shoes and sandals have been distributed to over 8.13 lakh tribals under the scheme and they are absolutely safe,” he said. The government aims to distribute footwear to 10 lakh tendu patta pluckers.
Reacting to the finding, according to which the chemical may cause cancer, state Congress president Kamal Nath said in a tweet “this should be a cause of concern, after all no one has the right to play with lives of others. Without proper investigation, how were these shoes distributed? Who is responsible for it?” Kamal Nath also issued a statement asking the government to recall all footwear distributed to the tribal tendu-patta collectors. “This is related to the lives of tribal brothers and sisters. To save their lives all distributed footwear should be recalled and a high-level probe should be ordered into the matter,” Kamal Nath said.
The PCC chief also demanded an explanation from chief minister as to how these shoes with dangerous azo chemical content were distributed to the tribal beneficiaries under the Charan Paduka Scheme. “This entire issue stinks of another scam because the state’s finance minister is giving a different explanation, he said, adding that big functions were organised in the state to distribute footwear to the beneficiaries.
The other controversy relates to the dispatch of more than one crore letters to women voters of the state.
It is claimed that more than Rs. 4 crore has been spent in the printing and dispatch of these letters. It is alleged that government funds and machinery have been used in the printing and dispatch of these letters.
The letter gives details about various schemes implemented for the empowerment of women. It also seeks blessings of the women to give another five year term to the BJP and particularly to Chouhan himself.
The state government directed the postal department to ensure that the letters reach the addresses before Rakasha Bandhan. Each letter carries the stamp of Rs. 4 and 70 paise.
The postal department made special arrangements for the distribution of the letters. It appointed nodal officers at state, division and district levels. Special bags containing one thousand letters each were prepared to carry the letters. It was a massive task undertaken by the postal department. The BJP hopes that this unique feat will help in increasing the number of women voters in its favour. According to a newspaper analysis, in the 2013 assembly elections the voting percentage was 72.07. The total number of women who voted was one crore 54 lakh and 65 thousand. The BJP feels that women are the main beneficiaries of several welfare schemes of the government and, therefore, there is every reason to believe that the percentage of women voters will increase in the coming November Vidhan Sabha polls. (IPA)

Friday, 14 September, 2018