Paddy scam in Odisha: Bank officials, middlemen illegally amassed lakhs

Koraput: Taking cognisance of the plight of farmers at the hand of middlemen, Odisha government had made online registration mandatory to sell paddy via respective PACS (primary agricultural credit societies). However, it seems, it has become a soft ground for bank officials and middlemen to illegally hoard money.

OTV has unearthed a scam in which officials of cooperative banks in four districts of the State, Nabarangpur, Malkangiri, Rayagada and Koraput, under Koraput Central Cooperative Bank in collusion with middlemen have minted money by carrying out fake transactions.

“How can I sell paddy? I am landless,” said Indra Majhi of Dengaguda under Nabarangpur district. But records say the government has bought paddy twice from Majhi and in return he has got a total of Rs 4, 72,000. He is in a state of panic after being told to return the money which he has never received.

Fake transactions have also been registered in the name of Bhagaban Majhi of Khariki who had sold his paddy to a middleman but records says government has paid him Rs 38, 760 against paddy purchased from him.

Meanwhile, registrar of the Cooperative Societies, Bhubaneswar has written to the chief executive officer of the Koraput Central Cooperative Bank to submit details of the steps taken against the delinquents pertaining to double payment towards paddy procurement during 2014-15 and 2015-16.

As per the audit report, a fraud of Rs 15, 39, 546 in 2014-15 and Rs 19, 56, 167 in 2015-16 has been done.

Indira Nanda, chairman of the Koraput Central Cooperative Bank said they have begun probe into the matter. “Our efforts are also on to recover money from the farmers,” added Nanda.

At a time when the agriculture sector in Odisha is already facing several problems and also driving farmers to take extreme steps out of crop loss and loan burden, cases of such fraud at the government level is a serious cause of concern.