Odisha government’s scheme for farmers runs into rough weather

Authorities halt disbursement of assistance after finding bogus beneficiaries

Published - August 16, 2019 01:37 am IST - Bhubaneswar

BHUBANESWAR, 24/01/2019: A promotional sign board of Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s “KALIA� yojana for rural farmers is seen on way side in Bhubaneswar. Photo: Biswaranjan Rout

BHUBANESWAR, 24/01/2019: A promotional sign board of Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s “KALIA� yojana for rural farmers is seen on way side in Bhubaneswar. Photo: Biswaranjan Rout

The Odisha government’s much-hyped Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA) scheme has gone haywire. The authorities are now facing a gigantic task of removing bogus beneficiaries who have already availed of the benefits.

A total of 51 lakh cultivators, loanee and non-loanee farmers, sharecroppers and landless agricultural labourers have been provided with financial assistance under the scheme so far. The authorities have now found out that all beneficiaries were not entitled to the benefits under the scheme and have asked the ineligible people to refund the money.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had launched the scheme ahead of the simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections held in April and May. He had assured that no eligible beneficiary would be left out of the scheme.

The State government, which had increased the target of KALIA beneficiaries to 75 lakh families, has stopped disbursement of financial assistance following the revelation about bogus beneficiaries. It is now busy verifying the genuineness of each and every beneficiary and has extended the deadline of the verification process from August 14 to August 27.

Verification process

According to official sources, out of the 51 lakh existing beneficiaries, the verification of 13 lakh of them was completed till Tuesday and 70,000 were found to be ineligible. The number of bogus beneficiaries is likely to increase since more than one member of a family have managed to get assistance.

In a majority of blocks, the number of applicants have outnumbered the number of ration card-holding families. A total of 54,000 applications were received for inclusion under KALIA from one block in Jagatsinghpur district while the total number of ration cards issued in the block stood at 23,000 only.

An official of the Agriculture Department told The Hindu that the problem with KALIA is that people had applied individually instead of one member from a family seeking assistance under the scheme.

Simultaneously, the government is also verifying applications of people who had been left out of the scheme earlier.

The total number of applications received under KALIA stands at 1.25 crore against the targeted number of 75 lakh families, a surplus by 50 lakh.

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