New Delhi: An RTI reply reveals that financial irregularities in the Madhya Pradesh professional examination board, better known as Vyapam, pre-date the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in the state. In fact, these irregularities have been the norm for the Board since its inception in 1970.
More than 1,000 financial irregularities were reported in Vyapam since 1970 to which objections were raised by the state's audit teams, revealed the response to an RTI application filed by one of the whistleblowers of the scam, Ajay Dube.
The audit of Vyapam was conducted by the Local Fund Audit under the MP government's finance department.
"So far we have been able to cull out data through RTI from the department of Vyapam till 2008. There have been 1,000 audit objections in the department in 38 years (1970-2008). We are assuming there could be 50 more such irregularities till date, but the department is not disclosing any further information," Dube told IANS over phone from Bhopal.
The RTI response to Dube revealed that 27 objections were raised by the audit team in Vyapam's internal financial dealings in 1970-71, 61 in 1979-80, 129 in 1980-81, 65 in 1982-83, 48 in 1988-90, 40 each in 1997-98 and 2000-02, 61 in 2002-03, 53 in 2004-06, another 61 in 2006-07 and 34 in 2007-08.
According to reports, the admission and recruitment scam involving politicians, senior officials and businessmen in Madhya Pradesh could be pegged at Rs.20,000 crore involving around 30,000 people.
"So far only 20 percent (3,600) of the total accused have been booked. Although the government figure shows that the number of deaths linked to Vyapam scam is 33, we assume the death toll is about 60," Paras Saklecha, another whistleblower of the scam, told IANS from Indore.
"Each MBBS seat has been sold for Rs.30-50 lakh and a PG seat for Rs.70 lakh to Rs.1.5 crore," Saklecha said.
The Vyapam scam has captured the nation's attention, forcing the Madhya Pradesh government to agree to a CBI probe.
"Prima facie we believe there could be financial irregularities totalling more than Rs.100 crore... Vyapam is the state government's exam conducting and not a revenue generating body. If there have been irregularities totalling Rs.100 crore in the department, it is overwhelming. By doing so, not just the policy was compromised, but also the standard and quality of recruitment," Dube said.
On Sunday, Arun Sharma, dean of the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Medical College at Jabalpur, who was connected with the probe into the scandal, was found dead in a hotel room near Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport.
A day earlier, television journalist Akshay Singh died in Jhabua soon after interviewing the family of one of the accused in the scam who had died.
Several people associated with the admission and recruitment racket in Vyapam have died since 2013 - mostly in mysterious circumstances.