As part of a major reshuffle by the central government involving 24 IAS officers on Friday, Amit Khare was appointed as the new secretary of Information and Broadcasting Ministry. Amit Khare is the brave IAS officer who rose to limelight after the unearthing of 940 crore fodder scam, or ‘Chara Ghotala’, as it is popularly called in Bihar and Jharkhand. This gutsy IAS officer had to face life threats to himself and his family added to the political pressure fro just serving his country.
It was in 1995 when undivided Bihar was under the rule of CM Lalu Prasad Yadav,
the state faced a huge financial crisis. The then Finance Commissioner V.S.Dubey did
a deeper analysis of the financial budgets and spendings of various state departments. He was aghast at the jarring irregularities in it. In december 1995, Dubey conducted a wide scale performance reviews of the various state departments. It was found that some state departments had withdrawn large amounts of money over and above the allocated budgets.
On 19th January 1996, District Magistrates and Deputy Commissioners of all districts were ordered by V.S.Dubey to investigate cases of excessive withdrawals. Amit Khare, an IAS officer of the 1985 batch, had then been appointed as the Deputy Commissioner of Chaibasa in undivided Bihar(Now this place is in Jharkhand).
On 20th January 1996, Amit Khare got into action starting the investigation on withdrawal of money by the Animal Husbandry Department from Ranchi treasury. The investigation marked a new history as it followed an incident which shook the country and placed the state and high profile administrators under the scrutiny of C.B.I., eventually leading to the resignation of Lalu Prasad Yadav.
The investigation and findings
It was found in Amit Khare’s investigation that the District Animal Husbandary
Department had withdrawn Rs.10 crore and Rs.9 crore twice without any supporting details
.Amit Khare sent them a notice seeking the proof of spending which was left unresponded. The IAS officer’s decision to conduct a raid shot him to an overnight star!
On 27th January 1996, Khara and his team of officers raided Chalibasa Treasury. The office
and farms of the animal husbandry department were raided and the invoice bills were thoroughly verified. The bills which stated the same amount of 9.9 lakh and which had been raised in the name of the same supplier were found to be bogus. This finding suggested the moneylaundering taking under the auspices of the Animal
Amit Khare sought an explanation for this siphoning off of the people’s money from
the District Animal Husbandary Officer(DAHO) and his colleagues. But they didn’t
respond. Amit Khare needed immediate answers. He undeterred, decided to crack down
on the office of the DAHO along with his magistrates. Like a treasure trove getting
opened, the raid yielded forged documents, a lump of cash, bank drafts and numerous
fake treasury bills were scattered everywhere! Smelling trouble, the officer and
his sub ordinates had fled already. It was about 12:00PM then. Deputy Commissioner
Khare asked his magistrates to start sealing the offices.SBI’s treasury branch
w3as asked to freeze all outgoing payments of the Animal Husbandary
Department. Police sattions were alerted across the district to ensure the safety
of the records and to make sure they did not land in the hands of the miscreants
who were prone to destroy them.
The cross verification of the findings with the accountant genaral’s office and the state finance department confirmed that the money withdrawn from the treasury was far more than the state’s total allocated budget for the animal husbandary department. The first FIR on the fodder case was filed following the above evidenses. This evidence was among other evidences which would later form the basis of the exposure of the Rs.940 crore fodder scam.
The Chalibasa treasury was not the only treasury looted, another fraudulent withdrawal of government money from the Deoghar treasury was reported in the channels. In the name of supply of fodder to animals in the districts of South Bihar, fraudulent bills were made by the supplierswith the collusion of state officials, the entire administartive and financial systems were subverted by those very people who were supposed to be its protector. The cash and bank drafts were recovered by the teams who raided offices. The massive corruption scheme by a nexus of bureaucrats, politicians, and businessmen who made up fictitious livestock, and procured ‘bogus’ fodder, medicines and animal husbandry equipment for it, was exposed by this fearless IAS officer- Amit Khare.
Amit Khare seldom worried about his own life or his job when he set out to unearth one of the biggest scams in India. The driving force, he said, behind that boldness was his teacher’s words.when he had been a student of IIM Ahmedabad, Professor Kuchhal used to say “too much of analysis leads to decision paralysis”.Amit Khare proudly says that he is glad that he didn’t waste his time thinking about his career, family or future. If he had thought, he would not have been able to conduct the inquiry on fodder scam. Not interested in taking all credits to himself, he proudly acknowledges his team of courageous officers. The other officers who facilitated the exposure of this scam include then additional deputy commissioner, Lal Shyama Charan Nath Sahdeo, who conducted a thorough checking of the treasury accounts, Superintendent of police, VS Deshmukh who made security arrangements to protect evidence, Sadar SDO, Fidelis Toppo, and second officer, Binod Chandra Jha, who sealed the offices and farms of the animal husbandry department and all the block development and circle officers who collected and protected the material evidence.
The story of Amit Khare and his team is an inspiration to all the aspiring IAS officers and to all government officials and bureaucrats. The risk of life in serving our country was boldly taken by this duty obsessed officer. Its a lesson for the posterity to encourage more officers like him.