AIR station director in tribal programme scam

Ahmedabad --- CBI sleuths conducted raids on the home and office of All India Radio's Ahmedabad station director Sadhna Bhatt on Thursday and uncovered a scam in programmes produced by the radio station under tribal welfare.

Sources said Bhatt siphoned off at least Rs 10 lakh with the help of a programme executive and his wife when they were producing 'Dungre Dungre Vikas Na Vayra', a 102-episode series.

Bhatt, Mihir Mehta, the programme executive and Mehta's wife Ashlesha, a translation executive, have been charged with "misusing their position for personal gain".

Bhatt claimed the money from Information and Broadcasting ministry and entered on the books that it was "spent" on programmes produced under tribal welfare. Investigating officers suspect more employees could be involved in the scam.

"As per the rule, AIR officials cannot be a part of a broadcast production team if the material is presented as a private producer's programme. However, here, Bhatt and Mehtas got involved as undercover players and went to the extent of lending their voice to the programme. So the payer and beneficiary were the same," said a source.

The Mehtas had been earlier caught by CBI in a similar scam six months ago.

"We have traced the money -- Rs 10.50 lakh -- that was paid for the episodes, back to Bhatt and Mehta.

We even suspect that AIR resources itself were used for the production," the source said.

CBI officers seized bank statements, passbooks and sanction letters during the raids.