The Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) on Tuesday demanded a CBI enquiry into the irregularities in selection of beneficiaries under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme in the state, which were unearthed more than a year ago.
The state agriculture minister has himself admitted to the irregularities in the assembly but the BJP-led state government did not order a probe as the ineligible beneficiaries were workers and supporters of the saffron party and its ally, the 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 washing its hands off the scam by merely urging the ineligible beneficiaries to return the money they have received,” AJP vice-president Someswar Singh said.
Under the PM-KISAN scheme, which has been operational since December 1, 2018, in the country, farmers receive Rs 6,000 per year in the form of three equal instalments of Rs 2,000 each. The eighth instalment of the scheme was released in May this year.
Out of over 39.39 lakh original applicants under the scheme in the state, 9,39,146 ineligible beneficiaries have been identified. The number of eligible people had come down to 18.67 lakh after further exclusions on technical grounds, including discrepancies in bank account details, Agriculture Minister Atul Bora had said in the Assembly in September 2020.
Bora, the AGP president, continues to hold the same portfolio in the current coalition government which assumed charge in May this year.
The minister had appealed to the ineligible beneficiaries to return the money when the irregularities were unearthed last year, which elicited response from only 819 such people, Singh claimed.
“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 that instalment money was paid even after the irregularities had come to light.
“The BJP and AGP leaders and workers are getting the money under the scheme. Hence, no action has been initiated,” Singh said.
Genuine farmers have been deprived of the benefits because of this, especially when they are facing hardships due to the repeated lockdowns, he claimed
“We demand a CBI enquiry to get to the root of the entire matter,” the AJP leader added.
The Congress, the main opposition party, had also demanded a CBI probe into the scam when it had first come to light in May 2020.
The then chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal had also admitted that anomalies have taken place.
At least three agriculture department officers were suspended for their alleged role in the irregularities last year. PTI