A scam in the implementation of the Pradhan Mantri-Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme has come to light in Cuddalore district with officials estimating that over 30,000 ineligible/bogus beneficiaries received ₹2,000 each in their bank accounts recently.
Cuddalore Collector Chandra Sekhar Sakhamuri told The Hindu that an enquiry is under way to ascertain the exact number of bogus beneficiaries. The portal for inclusion of beneficiaries under the scheme has since been suspended.
Preliminary investigations by district officials have revealed that the password of an official of the Agriculture Department from a district in northern Tamil Nadu was allegedly stolen to include bogus beneficiaries. These ineligible beneficiaries were added through middlemen.
An official in the rank of Deputy Director has been directed to probe the inclusion of names of bogus beneficiaries in all the 13 blocks in the district. A senior official requesting anonymity said that the Directorate of Agriculture had also directed officials to conduct a probe and submit a report.
The PM-KISAN Nidhi Scheme aims to give ₹6,000 a year in three instalments to farmers who own up to two hectares of cultivable land. As many as 1.79 lakh farmers are covered under the scheme in Cuddalore district.
The scam came to light after the third instalment of ₹2,000 was credited into the bank accounts of beneficiaries recently. Over 30,000 ineligible and bogus persons across the district are suspected to have received the amount necessitating a probe, an official said.
Another official said that in Pillayarmedu village in Karaikadu panchayat alone, complaints started pouring in that over 300 ineligible persons, who were not farmers, had received the instalment in their bank accounts. “The administration swung into action and ordered a probe into list of beneficiaries who had availed of the amount across the district,” he said.
Official sources said that a probe had commenced to verify beneficiaries under the scheme, cross check them with the land details available with the Department and bank accounts, and weed out ineligible persons from the list.
An official at the Department of Agriculture in nearby Villupuram district said that as many as 3.15 lakh beneficiaries are covered under the scheme in Villupuram and Kallakurichi districts.
“The inclusion of beneficiaries through the online portal has been suspended following complaints over anomalies in the scheme,” the official said.
A probe has been ordered to weed out bogus persons from the scheme he said, adding that the Department will recover the instalment amount if it was credited to the bank accounts of ineligible persons. He said that eligible farmers who have been left out from the scheme could submit proof of their Aadhaar card, encumbrance certificate and ration card to the Department for inclusion of their names.
K.V. Elangeeran, president of the Cauvery Delta Farmers Federation said that serious anomalies had come to light in the selection of beneficiaries under the scheme. He alleged that revenue officials including VAOs had included people known to them and their relatives and those who were economically sound, as beneficiaries.
The administration should conduct special camps in all the blocks to enable farmers to submit documents in person and enrol their names. This would prevent inclusion of ineligible persons, he added.