Chit fund scam haunts panchayat poll candidates

Kendrapara: The spectre of the chit fund scam has returned to haunt candidates in the fray for the three-tier panchayat election in Odisha.

While ‘bijli-sadak-pani’ are common demands in most parts of the state, people in the coastal district of Kendrapara are asking whether the ponzi firm operators would be punished.

The candidates contesting right from ward member’s post to that of the member of zilla parishad are contending with queries from chit fund deceived voters.

“We are asked when will the investors (in chit funds) get back their hard-earned money,” said a candidate of the ruling BJD contesting for the zilla parishad.

We lost money to fraud companies. The government promised us that the money would be paid back to us. But nothing has been done as yet. Now the candidates are visiting our houses seeking votes. They are giving their own versions and promising to fight for the people,” said Swarnalata Swain, a voter from Mangalpur village who lost her life’s savings of Rs 16 lakh in the scam.

She was echoed by many others who claimed that they are running from pillar to post to get back their money from the ponzi companies.

Jayant Kumar Pradhan, resident of Chotti village in the district said, “I was defrauded of Rs 12 lakh two years ago by a chit fund company. Despite the commission of inquiry and legal crackdown on chit fund scam I have not received a single paisa till date. I had asked the panchayat election candidates when they came to canvass,” he said.

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Minati Hansda, a contestant from zone 13 of the zilla parishad said a large number of people from Palei village who lost their money to a fake financial company aired their grievances during her campaign.

“If elected I will take up the matter with the district administration,” she added.

Manorama Sahu from zone 12 of zilla parishad said “If people elect me I will fight for the investors in my capacity as a zilla parishad member.”

The administration has issued advisories to panchayatiraj institutions for creating awareness on risk involved in investing in dubious chit funds and financial companies, said Kendrapara collector Muralidhar Mallick.

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