Dozens of pulses farmers in Odisha's Khordha district have alleged irregularities in subsidy amounts to the tune of lakhs of rupees by a staff of the state Agriculture department. The farmers alleged that subsidy amount worth lakhs of rupees have been embezzled by a Krushak Sathi and all that happened because of the lackadaisical attitude of the district administration towards the farmers.
As per the allegations, Krushak Sathi embezzled the amount by depositing it in the account of fake farmers. The accused staff also later allegedly withdrew the money. The matter came to the fore after a local, Goutam Majhi, applied for RTI that 'exposed' the embezzlement.
“After applying for RTI, I came to know that people who don’t even have any farmland received the subsidy amount ranging from Rs 8,000 –15,000. The fraud was done by the Krushak Sathi. He gave Rs 500-1000 as bribe money to the people to withdraw the money and embezzled the rest of the money,” informed Goutam.
Dozens of farmers from villages under Nirakarpur panchayat, Bhagabatipada, Totapada, and other villages have fallen victim to the fraud. Worse, the Krushak Sathi has withdrawn higher amount of subsidy by showing the farmers as ST/SC.
“I would often ask the Krushak Sathi about the subsidy, but he would keep avoiding. Later, he started threatening that I would not get any subsidy. While original farmers haven’t got any subsidy, he has withdrawn all the money using bank accounts of fake farmers,” a farmer, Ari Majhi alleged.
Rita Dei of Bhagabatipada said, “He told me that Rs 8,000 would be deposited in my account. He promised to give me Rs 1,000 and took away the rest of the money. Likewise, he has collected lakhs of rupees by depositing the subsidy money in the account of fake farmers.”
When contacted, Prasanna Kumar Mishra, Additional District Agriculture Officer (Tangi), said, “I’m aware of the fraudulent activities by the Krushak Sathi and a probe into the fraud has been launched. Stringent action will be taken against anyone found guilty in the probe.”
Similarly, Sarat Kumar Parida, Chief District Agriculture Officer, Khordha said, “The District Collector had directed me to probe the matter. I have already directed the Tangi Additional District Agriculture Officer to probe the matter diligently and submit the report as soon as possible. Necessary action will be taken after the report is submitted.”