The Odisha government has found that 2.66 lakh recipients of assistance under its Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA) scheme are not eligible for the benefit, Agriculture Minister Arun Sahoo said on Thursday.
The government will take a call on the process to retrieve the money from the ineligible beneficiaries after August 31, when the scrutiny is complete.
Speaking to the media, Sahoo said, “This (KALIA) is a large scheme. It was seen that there are some beneficiaries who have been found to be ineligible. Exclusion criteria were created. On that basis, nodal officers were placed at the GP, block and district level. After scrutiny of more than 72 per cent recipients of KALIA assistance, which is around 36.88 lakh (beneficiaries), 2.66 lakh have been found ineligible,” he said.
“The scrutiny process will continue till August 31. When the list is completed, we will let you know the final number,” he added. “At the GP level, the nodal officers undertaking this scrutiny have been advised not to let a single eligible beneficiary be left behind.”
According to the KALIA website, beneficiaries include small and marginal farmers who can get support for cultivation. Landless agricultural households are eligible for livelihood support, and vulnerable agricultural household covering vulnerable cultivators/ landless agricultural labourers are eligible for financial assistance. Vulnerable cultivators/ landless agricultural labourers include those affected by old age, disability, disease.
Exclusion criteria often overlooked
Ineligible beneficiaries crept in through various sources, agriculture department officials said, requesting anonymity. In some cases, multiple members of the same household have applied for KALIA. Others have claimed the benefit without checking exclusion criteria on the KALIA website.
Small and marginal farmers are provided Rs 10,000 per family per year as assistance for cultivation. KALIA targets 10 lakh landless households, specifically SC and ST families. They are supported with a unit cost of Rs 12,500 for activities like goat rearing, mushroom cultivation, beekeeping, poultry farming and fishery.
The website also mentions categories that are ineligible, such as employees of government or public sector units and income tax payee farmers. According to the KALIA website, an ineligible beneficiary can inform the government voluntarily by contacting the Gram Panchayat Nodal Officer (GPNO) to fill up the form for exclusion of his or her name, or submit the refund form for the amount received to a prescribed bank account.
A person other than an ineligible beneficiary can also submit an ‘objection form’ in the name of the ineligible beneficiary, to either the GPNO or directly on the KALIA web portal.
The opposition BJP alleged that ineligible beneficiaries came in because the ruling BJD disbursed funds to its supporters ahead of the recent Lok Sabha elections.