Bhubaneswar, Sept 18 (LocalWire): As skeletons tumble out of the state’s flagship KALIA scheme with 3.41 lakh ineligible beneficiaries eating up a whopping Rs 170 crore, the government’s move to exempt the fake beneficiaries from penal action has drawn strong criticism.
The fake beneficiaries of the Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (direct benefit transfer scheme) included among other 12,000 farmers, 9,000 children, 20,000 government employees and pensioners.
The sum taken by the fake beneficiaries will be recovered, the government said, keeping silent on penal action against them for misappropriation of government money.
There are several past instances of fake ration cardholders in the state being put behind the bar under National Food Security Act (NFSA).
‘The unlawful grabbing of ‘Kalia’ funds is an offence of similar magnitude as that of pilfering PDS ration by fake cards.
Thus leniency towards the ineligible Kalia beneficiaries defies law and logic both,’ said senior lawyer of Bhubaneswar Bar Association, Pradip Tripathy.
Criminal cases need to be filed against the ineligible beneficiaries under relevant IPC sections including 420 (cheating) as they perpetrated misappropriation of government money.
Such coercive legal action will act as a deterrent for others from breaking the law. 20,000 serving and retired government employees who grabbed the DBT have infringed the Orissa service rules and code. First of all, government should take them to task in conformity with legal provisions, commented another legal practitioner, Biswapriya Kanungo.
‘Taxpayers’ money has been diverted towards this populist scheme launched in January 2019 with an eye on elections.
I am paying tax to the government. I have the right to raise questions on the lenient attitude of the government towards the fake beneficiaries,’ observed Muktikant Rout, an executive of a private automobile sales unit here.
Ahead of the 2019 twin polls, the state government had launched the scheme for the growth of farming sector and agrarian economy of the state. 51.5 lakh beneficiary farmers including farm labouers were provided Rs 10,000 each per annum for two crops (Rs 5,000 for kharif and Rs 5,000 for rabi crop) under the scheme.
The senior officials of agriculture department refused to comment on the controversy while agriculture and farmers’ empowerment minister Arun Kumar Sahoo could not be reached despite several attempts.