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Massive fund embezzlement in Nagaon PHED

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Nov 8 - Embezzlement of several lakhs of rupees in the name of fluoride control in Nagaon district has come to light. According to reports, an amount of around Rs 50 lakh has been embezzled by a section of the Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) officials in the name of sinking ring wells to tackle the problem of fluoride contamination of ground water in the fluoride-hit areas of the district.

This came to light at a convergent meeting held by the district administration of Nagaon on fluoride mitigation at the Nagaon Deputy Commissioner�s Office on November 5 with the Additional Deputy Commissioner Mridul Kumar Das in the chair.

A senior officer of the PHED placed before the meeting that though his predecessors had shown on records construction of 212 ring wells in the fluoride-hit areas at the cost of around Rs 65, 000 each, now, during physical survey, it has been found that 67 of these ring wells are non-existent. This makes it obvious that there is a misappropriation of over Rs 43 lakh.

Dharani Saikia, general secretary of the voluntary organisation Environment Conservation Centre, which was in the lead in organising the convergent meeting, told this newspaper that if a detailed survey is carried out there is a likelihood of surfacing more cases of embezzlement of the PHED money stated to be spent on the district�s fluoride mitigation programme.

He said that the Department had spent a huge amount of money on the Mark-III, Tara Pumps etc., under this programme and no survey has been carried out as yet to assess their physical existence and performance.

The convergent meeting also decided to sink 30 ring wells on as many school campuses in the fluoride-affected areas of the district.

Joint Director of Health Services, Nagaon Dr Atul Pator told the meeting that the doctors and employees of the Lutumari Primary Health Centre (PHC) have been attached to the Kathiatoli FRU. The Lutumari PHC would be inaugurated on November 15, he said.

The meeting approved the menu containing calcium and vitamin C for the Mid-day Meal programme of the district�s fluoride-hit areas. It also formed a fluoride mitigation support centre with the ADC as the chairman and Dharani Saikia as the coordinator of its managing committee, Saikia said.

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