Saturday, September 19, 2020
Home Politics Odisha: BJD's 'election weapon' KALIA scheme wasted 170 crores on lakhs of ineligible beneficiaries

Odisha: BJD’s ‘election weapon’ KALIA scheme wasted 170 crores on lakhs of ineligible beneficiaries

BJD government in Odisha had no mechanism in place to identify genuinely eligible beneficiaries for its flagship KALIA scheme. The result is 3.41 lakh ineligible beneficiaries who have now cost the exchequer 170 crores.

Before the 2019 general and Odisha Assembly elections, Navin Pattnaik-led BJD had announced a major cash benefit scheme for small farmers in the state. Termed ‘Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation’ or ‘KALIA’ (the popular Odia word for Lord Jagannath) was meant to financially benefit millions of small and marginal farmers, and landless labourers in the state.

The KALIA scheme was seen as BJD’s speed-train that carried it successfully to a consecutive 5th term in Odisha. The main opponent BJP, despite winning a massive mandate in the national general elections, managed to get only 26 assembly seats out of the total 147 in Odisha.

BJD’s flagship scheme KALIA, image courtesy: Odishadiary

BJD won the election riding on KALIA scheme

Over 51.05 lakh individuals in the state had received Rs 5000 each under the KALIA scheme, in the first instalment. The scheme was announced in December 2018. The BJP had been alleging that the scheme is nothing but the state govt’s cash for vote plan in disguise. In March 2019, the Chief Election Commissioner of Odisha had stopped money distribution under KALIA scheme citing the model code of conduct before elections. One of the major pre-election promises of Navin Pattnaik was, a BJD government will transfer 2 instalments of KALIA (Rs 10,000) to beneficiaries on the very next day of coming to power in the state, and he did.

- Advertisement -

Interestingly, while the verification process and identification of eligible beneficiaries for a government scheme should ideally be done before the money gets credited, the Odisha government seems to have done the exact opposite. After distributing the money, adding thousands of new beneficiaries for every new instalment and winning en election riding on its popularity, the BJD government in Odisha took the verification process seriously only after allegations of genuine beneficiaries being left out started to surface.

Govt employees, pension holders, minors and big farmers got money

The state agriculture ministry under minister Arun Sahu appointed Panchayat level nodal officers and started the verification process for 51.05 lakh beneficiaries in August. The verification exercise was carried out from August 6 to August 31. Two days back, Odisha Agriculture Minister Arun Sahu informed that the process has discovered that over 3.41 people who have already got the money, were not eligible for the scheme. The loss to the state exchequer is pegged at a staggering 170 cores.

Arun Sahu told that his ministry has identified that over 20,000 government employees and pension holders had posed as poor landless farmers to get the KALIA money. Over 9,000 beneficiaries are actually minor children and there are thousands of families who have received the money for multiple members. Over 12,000 beneficiaries are big farmers with landholdings of above 5 acres. Simply put, lakhs of people who have got the financial benefits were ineligible for it.

‘We told you so’, says opposition

Opposition parties are already in ‘We told you so’ mode. Congress leader Suresh Rautray said, “Only BJD workers and supporters have benefitted from the KALIA scheme while genuine eligible people have been left out”

BJP’s Pradeep Purohit said, “Since the days the scheme was launched we have been raising questions over its yardsticks for enrolling beneficiaries. The government had no yardstick. They only tried to buy votes by giving cash.”

No mechanism to verify beneficiaries

Minister Arun Sahu and most BJD leaders are totally silent on how exactly 3.41 lakhs people who were not eligible managed to register as beneficiaries and took the government’s money. Times of India has quoted one government officials as saying, “Instead of placing a mechanism to identify beneficiaries, the scheme relied on self-certification by people for their inclusion in the scheme. In the name of landless farmers, thousands of people without documents were brought under KALIA scheme. This resulted in large-scale errors”.

Odisha govt says ‘we will get the money back’

CM Naveen Pattnaik has said that the government will try and bring the money back. Arun Sahu has stated that the government employees and pensioners who have taken the money will be asked to give it back. Else the amount will be deducted from their respective salaries or pensions. The money that was released in the name of minors will be adjusted while granting the next instalments to their parents and for the families who have received money for two members, it will be considered two instalments of the KALIA scheme.

Conclusion

While the government may make grand statements claiming they will recover the money, for practical purposes, it seems a distant dream. They might manage to recover the amount from the government employees and pensioners, but recovering the amount from other ineligible persons, whose numbers run in lakhs, seems doubtful.

The questions that arise now is, will the Odisha government admit openly that in the hurry to ensure votes, they overlooked the fact that they did not have a system in place to check misappropriations at this large a scale? In 2017 and 2018, there were several reports on how the mandatory AADHAR had identified 4.4 lakh fake students in mid-day meal schemes in just three states. There is a long list of schemes where thousands of crores of public money has been wasted due to cheating, false claims and middle-men. In 2018, the central government had informed that AADHAR-based verification for DBT schemes had saved the public exchequer a whopping 90,000 crores. It is indeed a sad spectacle that despite tools being available for effective verification and identification of an eligible beneficiary, there are political parties willing to throw away money at people, just to ensure votes, not sparing a thought for the loss that it causes.

The issue also puts a giant question mark on the public. While we demand development and facilities as per twenty-first century standards, there are people among us who are willing to claim government money that they do not have any right to, the money which could have brought some respite to a poor landless labourer’s family struggling to make ends meet.

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

Sanghamitra
reader, writer, dreamer, no one

Related Articles

Trending now

Julio Ribeiro and Open Letters, a love story better than Twilight: Here are some letters that the former IPS officer has signed

Former IPS Officer Julio Ribeiro has recently written to the Delhi Police complaining of their 'flawed investigation' into Delhi Riots.

Here is criticism of ‘a particular community’ as approved by the Honourable Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has not taken kindly to a show by Sudarshan News, criticising a 'particular community'

Why you should support farm ordinances introduced by the Modi govt: The mother of all reforms

In mid-June, the Modi govt brought three ordinances related to farming, which can forever change the agricultural landscape of India. Folks, this is the mother of all reforms.

Of Macaulay and Nehru: A dilapidated education system and the need for the phoenix to rise from the ashes

A major consequence of the dilapidated education system, thanks to Nehru and Macaulay, is that an average Indian graduate is a test taker and a job seeker

Sudarshan TV Vs Supreme Court: Justice Chandrachud objects to representation of Muslims with skull cap, beard, green colour with flames in the background

Sudarshan TV had filed a plea challenging the court's stay on the telecast of the remaining episodes of their show 'Bindas Bol' about the alleged 'UPSC Jihad'

The Goan Inquisition by the Portuguese: A forgotten holocaust of Hindus and Jews

The Portuguese inquisition of Goa is an often forgotten and unspoken event by the ‘secular’ circles of Indian historians, despite various historical records exposing the gross exodus of not just Hindus, but also Jews that had escaped Medieval Europe to take refuge in India.

Recently Popular

Nepal claims Indian cities Dehradun, Nainital under its ‘Greater Nepal’ campaign: Reports

The tension between Indian and its Himalayan neighbour Nepal is likely to mount again as Nepal continues to provoke India.

Here is why #BabyPenguin is trending on Twitter, and why Aaditya Thackeray is called so by some

Yuva Sena registered complaint against twitter user for calling Aaditya Thackeray "Baby Penguin" and Uddhav Thackeray "Aurangzeb"

From Ranbir Kapoor to Sanjay Dutt to Gauri Khan: The celebrities who flew ‘high’ and have battled drug addiction

Many Bollywood celebrities have confessed they had a drug problem at some point in their lives, some even went to jail for the same

Begusarai: Mohammad Maufiz used to rape his eldest minor daughter, sexually exploited other two minor daughters

Mohammad Maufiz in Begulsarai arrested after it was known that he is raping his eldest daughter for 5 years, molested two other daughters

“You are supposed to be unprejudiced,” investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala schools BJP-hater NDTV journalist Sreenivasan Jain

Without nothing left to say, Sreenivasan Jain laughed aloud and claimed, "I would love to think that I am unprejudiced."

Here is criticism of ‘a particular community’ as approved by the Honourable Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has not taken kindly to a show by Sudarshan News, criticising a 'particular community'

Bloomberg Quint calls an economist an ‘infectious disease expert’ to peddle the theory that a high recovery rate is a ‘useless statistic’

The Quint earlier transformed an engineer to a doctor to prove that India is in the middle of community transmission stage

Minister Anurag Thakur apologises after ruckus breaks out in Parliament over his comments on the Nehru-Gandhi family

Anurag Thakur had slammed the Congress party over the PM Relief Fund during a discussion on PM CARES Fund

“You are supposed to be unprejudiced,” investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala schools BJP-hater NDTV journalist Sreenivasan Jain

Without nothing left to say, Sreenivasan Jain laughed aloud and claimed, "I would love to think that I am unprejudiced."

‘Women rioters attacked police with swords and knives hidden under their burqa’: Author Monica Arora shares anecdotes from her upcoming book on Delhi Riots

The book narrates how Muslim women protesters had attacked DCP Amit Sharma and constable Ratan Lal after inviting them for talks

Uttar Pradesh police nab three persons in the Aligarh jewellery robbery case seen in viral video

In a viral video, three accused identified as Saurabh, Mohit and Rohit were seen robbing a jewellery shop in Aligarh at gunpoint

Maha Vikas Aghadi govt ‘struggles’ to pay salaries but ready to spend Rs 5.5 crores to appoint Pvt ad firms for Chief Minister’s publicity

The Maharashtra government has been struggling to play salaries and pension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The court must not call out Sudarshan News for speaking for the rights of Dalits and calling out a Dalit leader who just would...

Justice Joseph castigated Sudarshan News on Friday over the manner in which Congress leader Udit Raj was treated.

‘An injunction order from us is like a nuclear missile’: Justice Chandrachud acknowledges the far-reaching ramifications of the stay order on Sudarshan News’ ‘UPSC...

Sudarshan News had filed a plea challenging the Supreme Court's stay order on the broadcast of its 'UPSC Jihad' show

They believe religious teachings are superior to state laws: What China’s whitepaper says about Uyghur Muslims and their ‘re-education’

The whitepaper insinuated that Uyghur Muslims were 'terrorists' who believed in the 'afterlife' and rejected modern science owing to religious dogmatism.

Julio Ribeiro and Open Letters, a love story better than Twilight: Here are some letters that the former IPS officer has signed

Former IPS Officer Julio Ribeiro has recently written to the Delhi Police complaining of their 'flawed investigation' into Delhi Riots.

Connect with us

243,917FansLike
453,212FollowersFollow
15,900SubscribersSubscribe