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Odishatv Bureau

Bhubaneswar: Farmers in Sambalpur district have alleged that lakhs of rupees in subsidy meant for purchase of paddy transplanters have been embezzled by the middlemen.

"I do farming but I have not bought any such planting machine," said a marginal farmer from Bilunga, Khulana Senapati on whose name a paddy transplanter machine has been bought and subsidy amount received.

Government reports revealed that Khulana was one of the beneficiaries of the transplanter in 2019-20 financial year. The machine was bought in her name at a cost of Rs 2,42,500 and subsequently a subsidy amount of Rs 1,21,250 was transferred.

Another farmer, who has allegedly been cheated, is Gurudev Parua from Bamra block in the district. A subsidy amount of Rs 1.5 lakh has also been allegedly misappropriated in his name.

"I have not purchased any machine or received any subsidy money," said Parua.

According to the documents in possession of OTV, the supplier of the machines was one Lenin Choudhury of Khushi Agrotech. The documents also have records of engine and chasis numbers of transplanters.

Choudhury, who is reportedly a dealer of Khushi Agrotech, said that the machines have been delivered to the concerned farmers who have also subsequently received the subsidy amount.

"We have been selling transplanters since 2018. All the farmers have taken machines from us. The subsidy amount has been credited to their accounts only," said Choudhury.

It is believed that around 100 farmers in the region have been victims of such fraud in the last couple years. The farmers have alleged that they have been cheated by the dealer and the agents of the Khushi Agrotech.

Earlier, some of the farmers had approached Mahulpali Police in this connection, but subsequently had to meet the district collector with their grievance after allegedly failing to get any assistance from the cops.

"They took our debit cards and later returned us after withdrawing the money. Though we brought the matter to the notice of Mahulpali PS, they didn't listen to us. So, we have now come to meet the collector," said a farmer, Jayanti Dhurua.

"The whole transaction of purchase and transfer of subsidy to farmers is done in a very transparent manner. Farmers apply for the machinery by giving their 'farmer IDs'. The beneficiaries receive OTP on their registered mobile number for any withdrawal and make payment to the dealers from whom they purchase machines through RTGS or account transfer methods," said Biren Kumar Churia, Block Agriculture Officer (BAO) of Bamra.

The BAO further said, "If a farmer shares OTP or gets into a secret understanding with the dealers, we can do nothing."

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