KALIA scheme: Protests, violence mar enrolment process

Bhubaneswar: From Jagatsinghpur to Balasore, Sundergarh to Puri; tension prevailed in different parts of the State today owing to irregularities in distribution of enrolment forms for the KALIA scheme. Not only protests but violence was triggered by the rush among people to get themselves enrolled into the scheme which promises cash benefits to beneficiaries in areas of agriculture and other allied activities.

Tension prevailed at Alisahi panchayat office under Astarang block of Puri district following non-availability of enrolment forms today. The locals at Gopinathpur in Balasore district also locked up a lady revenue inspector (RI) for allegedly arriving late for distributing the forms today.

In Remuna block of Balasore, agitated farmers alleged that forms are being distributed on party-affiliation basis. In Jagatsinghpur, several people staged a road blockade at Eradanga while tension also prevailed at Ichapur panchayat in Balikuda block. In an unfortunate incident, one person was reportedly stabbed in Goda Panchayat under Ersama Block of Jagatsinghpur during distribution of enrolment forms.

There was also utter confusion among several people regarding filling up the forms particularly among landless and sharecroppers, as the form sought house and land details. Moreover, lack of acknowledgement tokens against receipt of forms triggered apprehension and confusion among the applicants over the legitimacy of the process.

Opposition parties slammed Odisha government’s move claiming it to be a political ploy to disburse money to party activists ahead of the crucial polls in the State. BJP Krushak Morcha president Surath Biswal stated, “The scheme has been launched to benefit and appease BJD men.”

Agriculture Minister Shashi Bhusan Behera on the other hand refuted the allegations levelled by BJP and the Congress. “The opposition parties are coming up with such allegations for political gains. Those coming to get enrolment forms are farmers and not any party activists or workers,” said Behera.

It is pertinent to mention here that Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on January 1 had launched the ‘Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation’ (KALIA) scheme at a cost of Rs 10,000 crore.