Political slugfest in Odisha over KALIA scheme

Amid claims that over 1/3rd of KALIA scheme beneficiaries are ineligible, the Naveen-led Odisha government is accused of misutilising the State exchequer

Bhubaneswar: The recent announcement of the Odisha government to release the second instalment under the Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA) scheme to the beneficiaries in November has triggered a huge political row in the State with both the BJP and Congress alleging ‘massive lapses’ in the scheme and identification of beneficiaries.

State BJP vice-president Samir Mohanty alleged that the Naveen Patnaik government had earlier (prior to the general polls) announced that the second instalment under the KALIA scheme would be disbursed to the beneficiaries soon after the elections but it didn’t do so.

“Why there was so much delay? Was the announcement part of BJD’s plan to only woo voters during the polls?” Mohanty questioned.

He further said that the State government should give details of the number of farmers that received the first instalment of KALIA money and the number of farmers who will get the benefits in the future. “How many farmers have received the first instalment directly through their bank account? We demand a white paper from the government on the same,” added Mohanty.

Senior Congress leader Jayadev Jena said that the State government had been claiming that it would get the money back from ineligible people who received benefits under the KALIA scheme, but seems it has no plans to get it back.

“Considering the current situation, it doesn’t seem that the government will give second instalment under the scheme to the beneficiaries,” he added.

Responding to the allegations, ruling-BJD vice-president Devi Prasad Mishra said that verification of beneficiaries along with some other works has resulted in the delay in disbursement of second instalment money to the beneficiaries.

“There is a hell and heaven difference in words and action. Naveen government is much more concerned about the people of Odisha and that’s why after allegations of some eligible beneficiaries being left out of KALIA benefits surfaced, the coverage of the scheme was extended from 40 lakh to 75 lakh people,” said Mishra.