In an alarming incident, it has been found that records pertaining to a scheme seeking to incentivise the birth of girl child and putting an end to female infanticide were manipulated in Bihar's Muzaffarpur district by officials.
The issue surfaced after a 65-year-old woman, identified as Leela Devi, is shown to have birthed eight girls in a period of 14 months and for every 'childbirth' Rs 1,400 was sent to her purported account and shown as withdrawn by the beneficiary, officials said.
When the incident was reported, Musahari Primary Health Centre in-charge Upendra Chaudhary got suspicious and lodged an FIR at the local police station.
Similar payments have been shown in favour of Shanti Devi, who, if the records of National Rural Health Mission here were to be believed, gave birth to five children within a period of nine months.
Another woman, Sonia Devi has been shown to deliver four children in five months.
Upon being informed about the benefits that were reportedly received by them, the woman expressed shock and stated that it had been decades since they last gave birth.
District Magistrate Chandrashekhar Singh has taken cognisance of the irregularities and ordered a high-level investigation.
"Janani Suraksha Scheme amount was credited in bank account of some old women many times in a year. We have formed a four-member committee which will submit its report in two days. If true, we will take administrative and legal action in the case," Singh told news agency ANI.
"The inquiry committee headed by Additional District Collector Rajesh Kumar has found that prima facie the charges of irregularities hold true. Departmental action will be taken against those found guilty after a detailed probe which would be in addition to legal punishment that may be awarded by a court of law in due course," he was quoted as saying by PTI.
As this scam was uncovered, it sparked outrage among the residents of the area as it brought back memories of the fodder scam of the '90s, in which records were fudged to show that truckloads of fodder, meant for livestock, was brought on scooters, and payments for the same were dispatched to those running enterprises like tailoring shops, etc.
(With inputs from PTI)