Sixty-five-year-old Leela Devi, a resident of Chhoti Kothia village in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district, has six children and her youngest son is 21 years old. However, according to records of the Mushahari block community health centre, she has given birth to 13 children in the past 18 months.
She is among 18 women, who were enrolled as beneficiaries in a scheme to encourage institutional deliveries and money received against their names was being swindled.
The matter came to light when an operator of a customer service point of State Bank of India (SBI) visited Leela Devi’s home on August 6, saying that some amount deposited by the government in her account had been wrongly transferred to another account. The operator asked her to visit the customer service point to put her thumb impression on a form so that the issue can be resolved.
Leela Devi became suspicious as she was not enrolled as a beneficiary in any scheme. “Instead of visiting the customer service point, I visited the Mushahari block community health centre and learnt that 17 women from my village and another from the adjoining Rahua village were listed as beneficiaries of an institutional delivery scheme,” she said.
None of these 18 women were pregnant.
For an institutional delivery, a woman gets Rs 1,400 and an ASHA worker, who brings the woman to a primary health centre, gets Rs 600. On August 2, such payments were made to the bank accounts of these 18 women.
All the accounts had been opened by the Customer Service Point operator Sushil Kumar.
Sheela Devi (59), also from Chhoti Kothia village, has been shown as having given birth to eight children in the past 13 months in the block community health centre records. The records show that she gave birth to two children a day apart. In reality, she has four children and the youngest is a 17-year-old daughter.
“I got to know about my name being on the list from Leela. I did not know about such transfers,” she said.
Muzaffarpur Police have so far booked Community Health Centre accountant Awadhesh Kumar in this connection, who is absconding.
The SBI customer service point operator Sushil Kumar, who has not yet been named in the case, has not been opening the service point since the matter came to light.
District Magistrate Chandrashekhar Singh has now asked all primary healthcare centres to submit payment details of institutional deliveries in the past two years, said district public relations officer Kamal Singh.
Earlier, a four-member committee headed by ADM Rajesh Kumar submitted a report on the matter.
“It has been found that money was transferred to the account of some organisation. We will get to know about all those involved in the fraud,” said Kamal Singh.
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