Intensifying its campaign against corruption in social welfare schemes to coincide with the anti-black money day on November 8, the state government has decided to push its “zero tolerance to corruption” in 355 talukas in 36 districts of the state, where five flagship projects are under way in various phases. The emphasis would be on ensuring that welfare schemes reach the rightful beneficiaries, and for that the state government is banking on digitisation.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has directed officials across departments concerned with welfare schemes to stress on the digital process to minimise human manipulations and make budgetary spending more transparent and accountable. The government has also decided to digitise all 29,000 gram panchayats by December 2018, instead of 2019 as declared earlier.
A senior official in the Mantralaya said, “The Centre has declared November 8 as anti-black money day to mark the first anniversary of demonetisation. The Maharashtra government has been working on extending the anti-corruption drive to streamline schemes to take developmental benefits to the people.”
At present, the emphasis on the anti-corruption drive is being seen on mainly three schemes in rural Maharashtra – the loan waiver for farmers, jalyukta shivar, and scholarships for backward class students.
A source in the CMO said, “The loan waiver scheme will be one of the models to depict zero tolerance to corruption. The mammoth exercise by the government to validate each and every application received online has helped curb rampant corruption in financial institutions.”
According to officials, there were 23 lakh names of farmers enrolled by financial institutions wrongly and it included a list of 3.5 lakh farmers against whom loans were shown but they were unaware. This means 3.5 lakh farmers had not taken the loans but loans were shown in bank accounts against their names. There were also 2 lakh to 2.5 lakh names that were not eligible for the loan waiver, they said.
Praising the digital process in weeding out the anomalies, a government official said, “If the government had not adopted the digital process, almost Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 crore would have been misused by vested interests. This would have deprived the poor and needy farmers of their rightful dues.”
Sources said that loan waiver amounts would be directly routed to the accounts of the 67 lakh farmers whose credentials have been ascertained after a three-tier scrutiny.
In jalukta shivir projects, the online tender process and strict monitoring helped check corruption, said officials in the ministry of water resources and water conservation. The total expenditure on jalyukta shivar projects was just Rs 2,936 crore and it brought 21 lakh hectares under irrigation and created a water storage capacity of 15.74 TMC, they said. Every project, along with cost and impact, was in public domain, thus increasing transparency, said an official.
In the case of scholarship for backward students, officials said efforts were made to check the rampant misuse of scholarship funds by educational institutions.