The Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) on Tuesday demanded a CBI probe into irregularities in the selection of beneficiaries under the state’s Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (Prime Minister-Kisan) scheme, which were unearthed more than a year ago.
The state agriculture minister himself has admitted irregularities in the assembly but the BJP-led state government has not ordered an inquiry as the ineligible beneficiaries workers and were supportive of the saffron party and its ally, Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), the AJP alleged.
The matter came to light in May last year.
“The government has failed to act on the allegations. Instead, it is simply washing its hands off the scam by merely urging the disqualified beneficiaries to return the money which they have received,” said Someswar Singh, AJP vice-president.
Under the PM-Kisan scheme, which has been operational in the country since December 1, 2018, farmers receive Rs 6,000 per annum in the form of three equal installments of Rs 2,000 each. The eighth installment of the scheme was released in May this year.
Out of more than 39.39 lakh original applicants under this scheme in the state, 9,39,146 ineligible beneficiaries have been identified. Minister of Agriculture Atul Bora had said in the Assembly in September 2020 that the number of eligible persons had come down to 18.67 lakh after further expenditure on technical basis, Including discrepancies in bank account details.
Bora, the AGP president, continues to holding the same portfolio in the current coalition government that assumed charge in May this year.
Singh claimed that minister had last year appealed to the ineligible beneficiaries to refund the money on detection of the irregularities, to which only 819 such people responded.
“The department or the government failed to take any preventive measures to ensure no recurrence of such a scam even after the matter had come to light last year itself,” he said, alleging the installment money was paid even after the irregularities came to light.
Singh said: “The BJP and AGP leaders and workers are getting the money under the scheme. Hence, no action has been initiated.”
He claimed that Genuine farmers are deprived of benefits because of this, especially when they face difficulties due to repeated lockdowns.
The AJP leader added, “We demand a CBI enquiry to get to the root of the entire matter.”
The main opposition party, the Congress, also demanded a CBI enquiry into the scam when it had first came to light in May 2020.
The then Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal had also admitted that corruption had taken place.
According to PTI, at least three Agriculture Department officials were suspended last year for alleged role in irregularities.