Bhubaneswar: At a time when the farmers are reeling under the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, the state government has asked all ineligible beneficiaries who received money under the KALIA Yojona to refund the money.
Prior to the 2019 general election, the BJD government had launched Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA) scheme and, in a hurry, distributed financial assistance of Rs 5,000 each to over 51 lakh farmers. Later, during scrutiny, the government found that 2 per cent (nearly 1 lakh) people are ineligible to receive financial aid under the scheme.
Now, the government is asking all ineligible beneficiaries to refund the entitlement given to them under the scheme.
Speaking to the media here Friday, Agriculture Secretary Saurabh Garg said, “We have sent request letters to all ineligible beneficiaries of KALIA scheme who have not refunded the amount on their own. They have been informed about the bank account number through which they can refund the money.”
Garg said that out of 51 lakh beneficiaries who have availed assistance under the Kalia scheme, 98 per cent were eligible.
He further said that many ineligible beneficiaries like farmers with large holdings, income tax payers and government employees have refunded the assistance transferred to them voluntarily. However, nearly 50,000 others have not refunded the amount they received, the secretary added.
Rakesh Kumar Meena, a beneficiary of the scheme said, “I have utilised the amount given by government. Now, during this pandemic, the government asked to refund. How can I repay it now?”
Meanwhile, Opposition BJP and Congress have slammed the move of the government and demanded action against the officials responsible for inclusion of the ineligible people in the beneficiary list.
Terming the government as anti-farmer, state BJP farmer wing president Pradip Purohit demanded roll-back of the decision.