Tuesday, June 22, 2021
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.

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.


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

reader, writer, dreamer, no one

Related Articles

Trending now

Uttar Pradesh: Forced mass religious conversion accused Mohammad Umar Gautam was felicitated by AMU alumni for ‘spreading Islam’

Mohammad Umar Gautam and his associated at the Islamic Dawah Centre(IDC) preyed on vulnerable and poor people, those with listening and speaking disabilities, and converted them to Islam

The MVA report card: Maharashtra government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic

10-min read: As the Maha Vikas Aghadi struggles to keep itself afloat, here's a snapshot on the Maharashtra government's handling of the pandemic.

Congress Toolkit team now comes up with a ‘white paper’ on COVID management, here is how it is flawed

Congress has released a white paper cautioning on the third wave of COVID-19, which appears as an extension of the toolkit that was exposed last month

86 lakh vaccinations: Why BJP had the most perfect day yesterday

Rahul Gandhi has done the BJP a favour, as usual when it comes to criticising the recordbreaking number of COVID vaccination.

More controversial TISS papers surface: ‘India controlled Kashmir’, ‘Military Occupation’, romance with a research subject and embracing Islam

The 'pro-Azaadi' paper was authored by one Sreyasi Mukherjee and submitted at the Guwahati campus of TISS.

They tortured me physically, mentally, abused my religion and my God: Read how women in Mamata Banerjee’s West Bengal are being victimised

Ground report by Organiser reveals the horrifying stories of sexual assault on women in the post-poll violence in West Bengal

Recently Popular

How Venkatesh Prasad is winning hearts with his ‘Sanghi’ posts, one tweet at a time

Venkatesh Prasad demonstrated the Surya Namaskar for his followers, performed in deference to the Sun God.

Ravish Kumar appears massively frustrated as India administers 85 lakh COVID vaccines in single day, this is why he does not make sense

Ravish Kumar goes on a ranting spree to hate on PM Modi by camouflaging propaganda as 'criticism' over COVID-19 vaccination

Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren fails to meet Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi despite 4-days wait: Details

The Dialy Pioneer has cited quoting sources that the JMM chief is not happy over Rahul and Sonia ignoring him and instead meeting TN CM Stalin.

Republic TV issues statement over Arnab Goswami’s disappearance from the news network: Here is what they said

Arnab Goswami was last seen on May 2 during a discussion on West Bengal assembly polls. He will make a return on Monday.

Fact Check: Is “Raam” with the photo of Lord Ram printed on it is the world’s most expensive currency

As Raam is not a legal tender issued by a sovereign state or a central bank, it is not a regular currency, it is actually a bearer bond
- Advertisement -


Connect with us