Pradeep Pattanayak

The Odisha Assembly Standing Committee report on utilisation of loan by self-help groups (SHGs) has painted the government into a corner. The report says the loan money provided by the government was not used for the specified purposes. Rather, the loan funds taken were used for something else like in children’s marriages.

The report has been prepared by none other than BJD MLA-cum-Chairman of the Standing Committee on Finance, Sushant Singh.

The report says that the SHGs are taking loans but not repaying them. They are not using the money for the intended purpose. In the report, it has been suggested that the SHG members should be given training and provided with a better marketing linkage for their products.

The ground reality is no different from what the report has stated.

The case in point is Laxmi Narayan Self-Help Group of Udala NAC in Mayurbhanj district. This group had availed a loan of Rs 1,00,000 for mushroom farming. The project failed to take off due to dispute among the members. Consequently, the group also failed to repay the loan amount.

“We had taken loan for mushroom farming. Had it started, we would have had some profit. But the members took their share of money and forgot about the project,” said Basanti Nayak, a member of Laxmi Narayan SHG.

Similarly, Sabitri Mahala, a member of Madan Mohan Self-Help Group of Nua Sahi area in Balasore district said that she had spent her part of the loan on her daughter’s marriage.

“I had taken my share of Rs 30,000 to grow paddy. But the money was spent on daughter’s marriage. We are repaying the loan in instalments,” admitted Sabitri.

Meanwhile, the report of the Odisha Assembly Standing Committee has provided the opposition a peg to hand their attack on the BJD-led ruling dispensation.

Taking a swipe at the government, Leader of Opposition (LoP) Jayanarayan Mishra said, “They (BJD) have taken the corruption from the office level to the SHG level. The report speaks volumes on corruption going on at SHG level.”

Congress MLA, Taraprasad Bahinipati also launched a sharp attack on the government over the corruption at the SHG level. “For SHGs, they (BJD) are making allocations of crores of rupees in budgets. But, in reality, the money is being used by government officers. The members of SHGs are being brought to the meetings of the Biju Janata Dal.

In her reaction to the allegations, BJD MP Sulata Deo said, “The self-help groups (SHGs) have gone a long way in improving the social and financial condition of the women of our state. For this, Odisha is being felicitated at national and international levels.”

(Reported by Manas Pani, NIranjan Behera and Harihar Chand, OTV)