Women organisations have expressed deep concern over the “ongoing exploitation of poor women by chit fund operators and demanded immediate intervention of the Government to stop such frauds’’.
They have also written to Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram to point out how such schemes have adversely impacted the poor women.
All-India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) general secretary Sudha Sundararaman said: “This exploitation was witnessed in the Saradha Chit Fund scam in West Bengal. We have written to the Union Finance Minister stating that the Saradha Chit Fund scam has destroyed the savings of some millions of small depositors including a very large number of women and is causing terrible agony to them.’’
Noting that the scheme has even “resulted in suicides by affected investors, belonging to very poor families’’, Ms. Sundararaman said angry demonstrations and attacks on offices of the company have shown the desperation of the affected people.
The women groups have noted that in West Bengal alone there were about 40,000 agents collecting money for the group of companies, many of whom are absconding to avoid the wrath and despair of the depositors.
“Small savings schemes which had been an important support for the economy in West Bengal and a safe haven for small depositors have been made less and less attractive by the Central Government and private mutual funds have been given more facilities,’’ said AIDWA’s Shyamali Gupta.
AIDWA has condemned this widespread exploitation of the poor, especially of poor women, and demanded immediate intervention by the Central and State Governments to curb and regulate the chit fund operators.
They have demanded strong legal and administrative measures at the national level to protect small depositors from fraudulent financial operators, easier access to public sector banks for small depositors, immediate attachment of all properties and accounts of the Saradha Group; setting up of a proper legal authority for returning deposits within a stipulated time and logistical support from the Government for continuous advocacy, especially among women, against investing with dubious financial institutions.