The findings of a CB-CID probe into the PM Kisan scheme scam in Tamil Nadu suggest that fraudulent elements, most of them backed by local politicians, looted money from several other welfare schemes too.
The investigators have also found that some listed beneficiaries, including poor farmers and farm labourers, did not receive any money and had not even heard about the scheme. The fraudsters, the probe found, collected documents from them to create bank accounts in their names without their knowledge.
During the lockdown, a senior officer investigating the case said, “loan fests” were organised by local leaders of political parties, including BJP and the ruling AIADMK. At these events, people were promised loans and financial benefits from the state and central governments.
“At these events, land and Aadhaar documents were collected. Not all such events reported scams, but at some places, we found that local leaders who organised these events created bank accounts without the knowledge of poor farmers and collected benefits directly. In some cases, they collected commission for the amount farmers received from the government,” the officer said.
The modus operandi, the officer said, differed from place to place and it was not a centralised fraud. “Fraudsters were targeting a central scheme in different ways. We have information about similar frauds in several other government schemes,” the officer said.
On Sunday, CB-CID arrested seven contract employees of the state agriculture department for their alleged role in the implementation of the PM-KISAN scheme in Villupuram district. It is alleged that they added ineligible beneficiaries and non-farmers under the scheme and got the list approved.
One of the most backward districts in the state with a sizeable number of farm labourers and migrant workers, Villupuram accounted for 90,000 ineligible people listed as beneficiaries of the PM Kisan scheme. Out of these, 60,000 comprised non-farmers and people who lived and had permanent addresses outside Villupuram.
The CB-CID officer said an amount of Rs 8 crore has been recovered from nearly 30,000 ineligible bank accounts in Villupuram alone. “In several cases, recovery is difficult as farmers shown as beneficiaries have no clue about the bank accounts in their names,” the official said.
In several cases, the officer said, the farmers said people who had visited them or organised loan fests took their photos and photos of their Aadhaar card and land documents. “They were told that they will be getting Rs 2,000 every alternate month from the Central government. Local politicians played a key role in this,” the officer said.
Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami has promised action against culprits and said it is the AIADMK government that unearthed the scam. He said the complete amount siphoned off from public funds — approximately Rs 110 crore — will be recovered.
Three district collectors told The Indian Express that the process to identify ineligible and fake beneficiaries from the list was proving to be a Herculean task. “Right now, we are busy with recovery from ineligible beneficiaries,” said a collector.
Earlier, DMK chief and Leader of Opposition in Assembly M K Stalin had alleged the role of AIADMK and BJP in the scam and demanded a CBI probe.
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