Four lakh people who had deposited money in the collective investment schemes of the scam-tainted Saradha group and in other ponzi schemes have lodged complaints with the Commission of Inquiry set up by the West Bengal government last month, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Thursday.
The complaints have been pouring in since April 26, and the Commission has been tasked with accepting them for a month.
Besides the Rs.500-crore relief fund announced to provide assistance to the duped investors, as recommended by the Commission, “starting from the most poor,” Ms. Banerjee said her government would work on how to raise money through the sale of properties of the Saradha group.
The Commission would prepare a data bank of the affected investors. The government would then decide on the system to be adopted for disbursing financial assistance “gradually and according to our capacity,” she said, appealing to the victims “not to be disheartened.”
She also pointed out that the government continued accepting suggestions on a new social security scheme under which people could deposit their money with the guarantee of returns.
Observing that people were moving away from small-savings schemes after a drop in interest rates, Ms. Banerjee said that for nearly three decades, companies like Saradha flourished as investors turned to them. “So many people have deposited in them and been duped.”
While announcing its social security scheme on May 8, the government had said it would wait for suggestions from the public for a month. Pointing out that the scheme would need the approval of the Centre, Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Surya Kanta Mishra questioned its legality as well as the economics involved.
The legislation to rein in ponzi firms, moved by the government and passed by the Assembly, was still with the Centre.
“We have asked it to be returned with the necessary assent at the earliest,” Ms. Banerjee said.