An estimated ₹110 crore was fraudulently credited to the bank accounts of 5.5 lakh ineligible people in 13 districts of Tamil Nadu under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-Kisan) Scheme during the past few months. As much as ₹32 crore has been recovered so far.
A combination of factors, such as relaxation of norms in enumeration of farmers, delegation of the power of authentication, emergence of a syndicate and discrepancies in data concerning land holdings, seems to have caused the scam.
The Central government, a year ago, introduced online provision for self-registration of prospective beneficiaries, after furnishing the required details. This arrangement allowed a section of field officials at offices of Assistant Directors of Agriculture to collude with private computer centres in the Kallakurichi-Villupuram belt.
The COVID-19 pandemic was used by the alleged culprits, as the field-level officers were occupied with immediate requirements of farmers and many could not visit their offices.