Designed on the side of rejection, many schemes get below target applicant

Ad hoc change in rules, and complicated, stringent procedures of welfare schemes of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Development Corporation Ltd. have had their intended beneficiaries — those from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes — in despair.

For instance, R. Ganesh from Kalladka who had applied for the ISB (Industries, Services, Business) scheme, complained of a “harassing” delay in the sanctioning of a low-interest loan of Rs. 7 lakh to buy construction equipment. “Instead of releasing the amount, they are trying to convince me to buy an autorickshaw. It seems like they want bribe,” he said in a complaint to the district police.

Calling this oft-heard, Dalit leader S.P. Anand said he had attended to at least 15 such complaints. While denying the charges of corruption, Deve Gowda, District Manager of the corporation, said it was the stringent State government rules and procedures that saw many applications rejected or kept in abeyance. Citing examples, he said that out of the 150 applicants for the Ganga Kalyan Scheme (GKS), which offers up to Rs. 1 lakh subsidy to drill borewells, around 50 would be rejected; out of the 71 ISB applicants, 44 were rejected by the corporation for ineligibility while loans for only 14 have been sanctioned by the bank.

“Fourteen types of documents – including mutation certificate, sketch of farmland, no dues certificates from cooperative societies – have to be submitted for the Ganga Kalyan Scheme. Many times, submission is delayed or records are not up-to-date. Banks reject applications if the farmer has taken crop or other loans,” he said.

The scheme is complicated if the corporation sees lack of motorable road to the farm or an unfavourable report for water availability by the Geological Survey of India. “No water, no money. If GSI thinks digging will yield no water, then we reject the applicant,” said Mr. Gowda.

Change in rules

The ISB scheme is afflicted by a sudden change in rules. According to earlier rules, for 2012-13, before the deadline of July 2012, 38 beneficiaries were to get bank loans at 4 per cent interest rate, and the corporation would have given a loan of up to Rs. 1 lakh. Now, under the new rules passed two months ago, the corporation’s loan component had been converted to direct subsidy, and the number of beneficiaries had been cut to 11, said Mr. Gowda.

“The bank will process applications on first-come, first-served basis, and most (applications) will be rejected. The rules say vehicle loans get preference and hence we try to convince all applicants to avail a vehicle loan for better chance of approval,” he said.

Involvement of MLAs

The convoluted schemes get more opaque and arbitrary by involving MLAs in the scheme, said officials of the corporation. “The list of beneficiaries is sent to the constituency MLA to approve the list. We find that most MLAs add and delete names. We suspect the names of their party workers are added, and these get rejected by the bank,” said an official. Perhaps, it is due to the difficulty in obtaining any benefits that the number of applicants has been dwindling. For example, Self-Employment Programme, which includes a maximum subsidy of Rs. 25,000 on a loan of up to Rs. 1 lakh, has received 108 applications against targeted 122 beneficiaries. And of these, officials estimate that more than 20 per cent of the applications will be rejected by the bank.

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