More than 11,000 people in Himachal Pradesh who received nearly Rs 12 crore under a national scheme for farmers have been found to be ineligible, the state government has said adding it is now trying to recover the money.
A total of 11,152 people who pay income tax received funds under the PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi, a central sector scheme for small and marginal farmers, which became operational in December 2018. The Himachal government is now trying to recover a total of Rs 11.95 crore, which was deposited in the accounts of these ineligible beneficiaries, some of whom may also face legal action for submitting wrong information while applying for the scheme.
The irregularity came to light recently when the list of beneficiaries under the PM Kisan scheme was matched with data from the income tax department, officials said. Under the scheme, an income support of Rs 6,000 per year in three equal installments is provided to small and marginal farmer families having a combined land holding/ownership of upto two hectares. After identification by the state government, the fund is directly transferred to the bank accounts of the beneficiaries but many categories of farmer families are ineligible for the scheme, including those who have paid income tax in the last assessment year. Many farmers “self-registered” for the scheme, which appears to have been the cause of such a large number of illegitimate transfers.
Scrutiny of applications has now revealed that nearly 60,000 installments were received by farmers in Himachal who pay income tax. In Kangra, the largest district of the state in terms of population, 2,377 ineligible farmers received a total of Rs 2.53 crore in a total of 12,640 installments. Mandi, Solan, Una and Bilaspur are some of the other districts where a large amount of fund has been transferred to the accounts of ineligible people.
Additional chief secretary (Revenue) RD Dhiman has now written to deputy commissioners of all the 12 districts in the state to recover these funds in a time-bound manner. District officials have been asked to recover the money from the same accounts into which it was deposited under the scheme. Dhiman has also asked the DCs to take legal action against those who furnished false information through self-attestation while applying for the scheme.
He said that so far, 161 of these ineligible farmers, mostly in Kangra district, have refunded Rs 17.82 lakh to the government, and the process of further recovery is underway.
Meanwhile, state Congress president Kuldeep Singh Rathore has demanded an independent inquiry into the “fraud” and alleged that investigation will reveal the involvement of ruling party leaders. He asked the state government to make public the names of all the ineligible beneficiaries.