Vikash Sharma

Bhubaneswar: Odisha government on Tuesday admitted that it distributed an assistance of about Rs 170.50 crore to 3.41 lakh ineligible beneficiaries under the KALIA (Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation) scheme.

Surprisingly, 20,000 government employees and pensioners availed financial assistance under the KALIA scheme. Agriculture Minsiter Arun Sahoo informed that financial assistance was provided to nearly 51,05,290 beneficiaries including 36, 34,710 (small and marginal farmers and share croppers) and 14,70,580 landless and agriculture households.

The State government while verifying applications through gram panchayat nodal officers found that 12,000 large farmers, 9,000 minors and 20,000 government employees and pensioners availed financial assistance under the scheme.

“The large farmers, who availed the financial assistance, will be asked to refund the amount while the government employees and pensions will be asked either to refund or the money will be adjusted from their salaries and pension,” said Sahoo.

Besides, around 3 lakh multiple members of the same eligible families have received KALIA assistance. The assistance released to them shall be adjusted in subsequent instalments.

9,000 minors have also received assistance under the scheme. As the heads of their families may have been provided with assistance, it will be adjusted in the subsequent instalments, Sahoo added.

Congress MLA Suresh Routray alleged that, “90% beneficiaries under KALIA scheme are fake. The benefits of the scheme were extended only BJD men while poor have been left out.”

BJP MLA Pradip Purohit stated that, “To get voters of farmers, KALIA scheme was introduced. The BJD candidates in respective assembly constituencies gave list of beneficiaries to RI and tehsildars. The State government should recover the money from the officers who prepared the beneficiary list.”

Responding to the allegation of the opposition members, BJD MLA Nursingha Sahu said, “Whatever good scheme the government launches, opposition will always criticizes and hence there is nothing new in their statements.”