Discrepancy in number of KALIA beneficiaries discredits ruling-BJD claims

Bhubaneswar: Controversy over discrepancy in number of beneficiaries under the KALIA scheme is posing a threat for the State government.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had claimed that 40 lakh farmers were benefitted under the KALIA scheme but a letter from the Agriculture Department has revealed that out of 30,77,908 small and marginal farmers selected for online transfer of financial assistance of Rs 5,000, only 27,95,645 beneficiaries have received the funds in their respective bank accounts through DBT.

The letter summarises the progress of KALIA scheme as presented after a State Level Committee meeting held on April 2 under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary.

“The funds transfer to 2,82, 263 accounts has failed as on April 1, 2019, ” the letter read. Similarly, out of 6, 24, 076 landless agricultural households selected for online transfer of financial assistance of Rs 5,000; 4, 74, 891 beneficiaries have received the funds in their respective bank accounts through DBT with a success rate of 76.09%. The fund transfer to 1,49, 185 accounts has failed, as per the letter.

In the letter it is also mentioned that including small, marginal and landless farmers, 32, 70, 536 beneficiaries have already received financial assistance of Rs 5000 with an overall success rate of 88.35% as on April 1.

“Out of 4, 31, 448 failure accounts, the segregation of these data has been made bank-wise by SBI and sent to SLBC for verification and validation,” the letter further read.

Meanwhile, farmers who have not received the financial assistance have started to question the political leaders who are campaigning for polls.

“My name was listed. They assured me that I will get the amount soon but I haven’t received it yet. It is unfair if some farmers are not getting the amount,” said Debraj Nayak, a farmer from Jeypore, said.

Another farmer from Udala, Bhaskar Lenka, said, “Despite having my name on the list, I have not received the amount yet.”

The State government had also written to the Chief Electoral Officer, Odisha asking for the release of assistance of the balance amount to 5, 64,916 farmers for the year 2018-19 and additional 2.50 lakh small & marginal farmers and 5 lakh landless farmers for 2019-20. However, the Chief Electoral Officer Surendra Kumar had said that as the list had not come through the Screening Committee, the letter was not approved citing that details on some aspects couldn’t be retrieved.

While both BJP and BJD have met the CEO over KALIA scheme, political experts believe that the resentment of those who have not received the benefit of the scheme may prove costly for the State government.

“CM Naveen meeting CEO over delay in disbursal of funds under KALIA scheme is well-planned strategy to counter the issue of farmers complaining about not receiving the funds,” political expert, Prasanna Mohanty, said.