Devbrat Patnaik

Bhubaneswar: A day after the Odisha government claimed that only 32000 of the total beneficiaries who received monetary assistance under the KALIA (Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation) scheme are ineligible, the State BJP and Congress units today came down heavily on the Naveen-led government for allegedly misutilising the State exchequer funds. While BJP claimed that the actual number of bogus beneficiaries under the scheme could be around 20 lakh (over one-third of total 51.05 lakh beneficiaries), Congress maintained that there is no truth in the data provided by the government regarding number of ineligible beneficiaries.

Addressing a presser, Odisha BJP General Secretary Prithviraj Harichandan stated that the KALIA beneficiary list was prepared as per the recommendations of the locals BJD MLAs.

The saffron party leader further mentioned that during the first phase of KALIA fund distribution, around 3 lakh out of 12 lakh beneficiaries were found to be bogus. So as per the calculation after final phase distribution, the actual number of bogus beneficiaries is very likely to increase and not the other way around, which the State government is blatantly denying, said Harichandan.

The Agriculture Minister, Finance Minister and Secretaries of both these departments should be held accountable for selection of beneficiaries and ideally, the loss the State exchequer suffered has to be recovered from their salaries, added the BJP leader.

He further said, "The 3.41 lakh ineligible beneficiary count mentioned by the Odisha government earlier is unreal. The actual count of bogus beneficiaries who availed assistance under KALIA scheme is much higher. The government has misutlised Rs 170 crore from the State exchequer. Many farmers and sharecroppers have been deprived of cash assistance due to misutilisation of funds. And this is only because the list was prepared as per the recommendations of the BJD leaders.

Harichandan also demanded a probe by a neutral agency to find out the misappropriation in KALIA scheme.

Similar allegations were levelled by senior Congress leader Tara Prasad Bahinipati who said that Odisha government is maintaining double standards.

However, comments from the ruling government could not be obtained.