Listen to this article:
Guwahati: Nearly 12 lakh ineligible farmers received benefits under the ambitious Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) Scheme in Assam, the state government has informed Gauhati high court indicating a massive scam in the farmer flagship programme.
Hearing a public interest litigation filed by NGO Amguri Naba Nirman Samity, a high court division bench comprising Chief Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia and Justice Soumitra Saikia asked the Assam government to file a detailed status report on the case.
“The state has filed an affidavit wherein it has admitted that over eleven lakh persons have been wrongly given the benefit of the aforesaid scheme,” the HC order given on Tuesday said.
The affidavit, filed by the joint secretary to the agriculture department Gunajeet Kashyap, stated that a government probe conducted by chief secretary Jishnu Barua in 2020 had found that 11.72 lakh ineligible people had received benefits under the PM-KISAN scheme.
The bench said the Assam advocate general has made a statement that the issue raised in the PIL is genuine.
“The efforts of the state government are already underway for enquiry and recovery of money from the persons who have been wrongly given the benefit of Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Scheme,” it added.
The Assam government also informed the HC that proceedings have been initiated against officers who were found to be involved in this scam and FIRs have been filed against some.
“Let a detailed report and up-to-date status report be filed by the state in the form of an affidavit before this court within six weeks,” the HC said in its order.
It has fixed April 5 for the next hearing of the case.
Under the PM-KISAN scheme, launched in 2019, a financial benefit of Rs 6,000 per year is provided to eligible farmer families payable in three equal instalments of Rs 2,000. The fund is transferred directly to the bank accounts of the beneficiaries.
On August 4 last year, Assam agriculture minister Atul Bora had told the Assembly that a total of 23,33,864 farmers across the state received benefits under the PM-KISAN scheme.
Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar had informed Parliament on July 20 last year that the Centre has to recover Rs 2,992.75 crore as on July 15, 2021 from 42.16 lakh ineligible beneficiary farmers registered for PM-KISAN scheme with the highest amount to be recovered from Assam.
“Out of this total amount, the Rs 554.01 crore has to be recovered from 8.35 lakh ineligible farmers in Assam,” Tomar had said.