Uttarakhand gives clean chit to officials in "relief scam"

 A committee set up by the Uttarkhand government on Friday gave a clean chit to government officials in alleged misuse of relief funds during rescue operations following the 2013 natural disaster, saying there was "no irregularities anywhere".

PTI| Last Updated: Jul 17, 2015, 22:18 PM IST

Dehradun: A committee set up by the Uttarkhand government on Friday gave a clean chit to government officials in alleged misuse of relief funds during rescue operations following the 2013 natural disaster, saying there was "no irregularities anywhere".

As per information provided by the District Magistrates of Uttarkashi, Chamoli, Pithoragarh, Rudraprayag and Bageshwar there were "no instances of over-spending or over-billing anywhere" as alleged, Chief Secretary N Ravishankar who headed the committee told reporters here.

He also sought to justify consumption of non vegetarian food by state government officials and men in uniform during rescue operations saying it was a routine thing in the uniformed services and calling it a picnic was not fair.

"Non-vegetarian food was consumed by Indian Army, IAF, ITBP personnel and state government officials who were part of the rescue teams but what is so unusual about it Consumption of non-vegetarian food is a tradition in the uniformed services.

"Considering the difficult circumstances in which members of the rescue teams consumed non-vegetarian food it is not fair to define it as a picnic," the chief secretary said.

Referring to reports that half a litre of milk was bought for Rs 194, the Chief Secretary clarified that as per information provided by the DM concerned it was a half kg pack of milk powder and not half a litre of milk in liquid form.

On reports that 30 litres of diesel were purchased for a motorcycle in Chamoli district and 25 litres for another in Bageshwar, Ravishankar said while the vehicle in question in Chamoli was a government jeep, the one in Bageshwar was a taxi.

The chief secretary said his report which was submitted to Chief Minister Harish Rawat on June 30 gives details of the expenditure of Rs 98 lakh spent over airlifting pilgrims stranded in different parts of the state after the 2013 deluge.

Recommendations accepted by the Chief Minister include publication of the Chief Secretary's report on the alleged irregularities on the state government's official website and setting up of an all-party committee by the state assembly to facilitate quality relief work in disaster-affected areas in future.