Pradeep Pattanayak

Large scale irregularities in ‘Harischandra Sahayata Yojana’ has come to fore in the Rajnagar Kurunti  panchayat of Kendrapara district where as many as 11 persons who are still alive have been shown as dead in government records to misappropriate ‘Harischandra Sahayata Yojana’ money. 

Sukanti Pradhan, a resident of Rajnagar Kurunti panchayat in Kendrapara district, is living with a stigma of being a widow these days, despite the fact that her husband is still alive. She and her mother-in-law have been down in the dumps since they came to know about her husband being shown as dead in registers, only to pocket an allowance of Rs 2,000. 

Worth mentioning, under the yojana, a poor family receives Rs 2,000 to perform the last rites of the deceased person. 

As of now, Sukanti is demanding death penalty for those who are involved in committing such a fraud.  

“Those who are responsible for this fraud should be punished severely so that they can never even imagine of doing such things in their life time,” demanded Sukanti.  

Sukanti is not alone in her predicament. As many as 11 persons of the panchayat have been shown dead. Sanyasi Khatua, 64, is one of them. He has also been shown as dead in the government records. Not only that, the record also shows that his son has withdrawn the money.  

But the reality is that Khatua is well and hearty while his son is working outside the State. 

“I have been dead since May 20, 2022. I was taken aback after coming to know about myself being dead. We have even not received the money,” said Khatua. 

Echoing the same, Gopinath Biswal said, “We are yet to find out who have withdrawn the money.”

The rule says, the assistance money under Harischandra Sahayata Yojana is released by Sarpanch of a panchayat. And it is the Panchayat Executive Officer (PEO) who is to upload details about the deceased person within 15 days of death. Then, only after being authorised by the BDO, the government deposits the money in the Panchayat account. 

But in Kurunti Panchayat, the PEO and BDO pleaded ignorance. 

“It seems miscreants have utilised my password to embezzle the money. Everything will be clear after a proper enquiry,” said PEO Chandan Das over phone. 

When contacted over phone, BDO Rabindra Pradhan said, “Stringent action would be taken against those found guilty in the investigation.”