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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar:  With the explosive revelation of over 3 lakh ineligible beneficiaries availing the KALIA (Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation scheme) assistance, the plot over KALIA scheme implementation thickens in Odisha.

Since Odisha was not the first State to launch such a massive farm investment support scheme, a comparative analysis of schemes of the same ilk like Rythu Bandhu Scheme and PM-KISAN reveals the lapses galore in every bit of implementation process - from codifying the application form to cross verification - in Odisha.

Consider the discrepancies observed in the much-touted Green Form for the KALIA scheme. First, the biggest loophole of this mega scheme is that it has no provision of affixing self -attested photo of the applicant.

Moreover, another ambiguity was in the column of name of the farmer. The 'Green Form' mandates writing the name of head of the family.  The fallacy here is the column should have made it mandatory to mention the name of farmer as notified in land records to avoid multiple applicants.

Both PM-KISAN and Telangana's Rythu Bandhu Scheme (RBS) have selected the beneficiary from the updated land records available with the revenue department.

While  RBS provided the income support to the farmers listed in the land records at the gram panchayat level, the PM-KISAN has very well elaborated what constitutes a farm family and sought details, including aadhar, relationship and land owned details, of the family members of the beneficiary to weed out the problem of multiple applicants.

The Green Form's vagueness in seeking details raised eyebrows. Because, specific queries and details could have screened out the ineligible applicants in the filing stage itself.

What was surprising is the State Agriculture department has the specimen instances of RBS and PM-KISAN before it to follow, still the creeping of such mundane loopholes beg an answer.

Moreover, the draft list was verified by the gram panchyat officials, who have the detailed identification guidelines on exclusion and inclusion criterion.  The exclusion notification had quite clearly stated about striking out minors and government employees (retired or working), except anganwadi workers from the beneficiaries.

Pursuance of the exclusion guidelines in letter and spirit during the verification stage could have easily excluded the ineligible applicants. But the screening apparatus of the Odisha government was found yawning!

Odisha government could have avoided the splurge of State exchequer money worth Rs 170 crore on ineligible beneficiaries had it followed the flawless identification procedure adopted in Telangana and of Union government in implementing PMUY or PM-KISAN.

While in Telangana the gram panchayat authorities directly handed over the farm income support assistance to farmers enlisted in the updated land records, the Centre provided the free LPG connections to households enlisted in the SECC-2011 (Socio-Economic Caste Census) list.

Despite clear-cut verification guidelines, were the discrepancies glossed over for the simple reason that the ruling BJD had to face the 2019 poll test?

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