Rs. 250 each sought from farmers in Kundapur taluk

The alleged demand of money by personnel of the Horticulture Department from farmers while conducting a survey under Suvarna Bhoomi scheme dominated the general body meeting of the zilla panchayat here on Thursday.

Raising the issue, Supreeta D. Shetty, member, said the personnel of the department had demanded Rs. 250 each from farmers in Kundapur taluk stating that they did not have money to travel. Fifteen farmers had complained to her about it. “Was the department not giving them travelling allowance? Was this not a bribe demanded by them?” she said.

The government had released Rs. 90.15 lakh to be distributed among 4,290 farmers in the district under the scheme. Each farmer was to get Rs. 5,000 deposited in his account in two instalments. But only Rs. 250 had been deposited in the accounts of some farmers. “There is corruption in it,” Ms. Shetty said.

Senior Assistant Director of Horticulture A.B. Sanjay said that the department was giving Rs. 20,000 as travelling allowance to the personnel in every taluk.

Chief Executive Officer of the ZP Prabhakar Sharma said it was a serious charge against the personnel of the department. He directed Mr. Sanjay to conduct an inquiry and submit a report in 15 days. In reply to a query by member Uday Kotian, Mr. Sanjay said that the survey of the damage to arecanut palms owing to diseases was going in all three taluks. While many applications had been received from farmers in Kundapur and Karkala taluks, only 20 had been received in Udupi taluk, he added.

Ananth Movady, member, said many people in rural areas suffered as the Department of Food and Civil Supplies had arbitrarily cancelled their ration cards just because they had not provided the RR numbers of electricity meters of their houses. “There is no power connection in many naxalite-affected villages in the district. How can people living there give RR numbers?” he said.

An officer of the Food and Civil Supplies Department said that such people should give applications saying that they had no power connection. Mamata R. Shetty, member, said that another criterion for getting ration cards was property tax bills. But people in villages did not pay them for a year or two. Hence, it could not be used a criterion, she said.

Manjunath Poojary, member, said that there had been confusion while issuing ration cards in the district. First, the computers allotted to issue these cards developed problems. Then, there were endless queries from the officials. Due to the apathy of the officials, poor people could not even buy kerosene. “The State government changed its stand on the LPG cylinders issue, it should do the same on the ration card issue,” he said.