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Minors disbursed flood relief in Araria, probe on

The Araria district administration has ordered a probe into alleged irregularities in the distribution of relief assistance money to flood victims in the district.

The probe team, which scrutinised disbursements of ₹72 crore among 1.2 lakh flood-hit families, claimed to have uncovered 300 fake entries, including minor beneficiaries, in a single panchayat.

Flood-hit households were to receive ₹6,000 each to cover damages due to floods last August, officials said.

Araria district magistrate Himanshu Sharma confirmed the findings and said irregularities were detected in disbursal of funds in Kakan panchayat under Jokihat police station of the district. He said orders had been passed to recover the money.

Sharma said stern action would be taken against the flood damage survey team, which vetted the beneficiary list. He also said that disbursements in other panchayats would also be scrutinised, following detection of 30 fake cases in another panchayat.

Officer-in-charge for disaster management, Shambhu Kumar, who conducted the probe, said, “Such irregularities could not have taken place without connivance of mukhiyas.”

He told HT that the probe team had stumbled upon hundreds of minors who were registered as beneficiaries.

Sources said mukhiya of Kakan panchayat, Wafa Hasan alias Pyaru, manipulated the list of beneficiaries and swindled relief money.

Md Shakib, a close relative of Hasan, runs a SBI customer service point (CSP) at Piti-Dumaria. He is accused of having opened bank accounts in the name of minors and credited beneficiary money in them.

However, Bibi Rahmati and Md Sayeed, residents in Kakan, complained that Hasan had collected Aadhaar cards of their children, besides others, assuring them that they would get relief doles. However, the money was not credited in their accounts.

Araria, some 300 kms north-east of Patna, along the Bihar-Nepal border, is in the Kosi river basin and among 19 flood prone districts of Bihar.

It was among the worst-hit of seven districts in August 2009, when the Kosi protective embankment was washed away in which over 350 persons were killed. The floods had displaced over 20 lakh people and brought down three lakh dwellings, besides killing over 1.50 lakh cattleheads.

Source: HindustanTimes