Congress corners BJD over ‘refund of KALIA assistance’

Bhubaneswar: Odisha Agriculture Secretary has informed that around 50,000 out of the total 51.05 lakh people who availed benefits under the KALIA (Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation) scheme are ineligible. While some of them have returned the money, the State government has asked others to voluntarily refund the financial assistance through a dedicated government account number.
“More than 98% of people who received KALIA assistance were genuine beneficiaries, so there’s not much of an issue. Of the 50000-odd ineligible beneficiaries, some have refunded, while we have sent letters to remaining people seeking a refund. They have been given an account number to deposit the assistance amount,” said Sourav Garg, Principal Secretary, Agriculture and Farmers’ Empowerment Department.
Meanwhile, the Opposition Congress slammed the ruling-BJD government for distributing cash in a hurry keeping general elections in mind.
Senior Congress MLA Tara Prasad Bahinipati levelled allegations that “prior to the elections, the government did not scrutinize properly and as a result, cash was distributed to many fake beneficiaries. This is not BJD’s money, it belongs to the poor people. Cash assistance was distributed according to the list prepared by BJD leaders. They first used these people for political gains and eventually won the elections. The refund amount should be collected from those officials who were involved in preparing the beneficiary list,” said Bahanipati.
As per government sources, a farmer is entitled to get Rs 10,000 per year – Rs 5000 each for Kharif and Rabi crops. All small and marginal farmers along with landless agricultural households, vulnerable agricultural household, landless agricultural labourers and sharecroppers/actual cultivators are eligible under different components of KALIA.
Notably, Agriculture Secretary Sourav Garg had earlier informed that the beneficiaries include 37 lakh small and marginal farmers while 14 lakh come under landless farmers’ category.

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