Bhubaneswar: The opposition BJP and the Congress on Wednesday hit out at Odisha Agriculture and Farmers’ Empowerment minister Arun Kumar Sahoo’s statement that there are 3.41 lakh fake beneficiaries of the state’s flagship KALIA scheme.
The BJP demanded an impartial inquiry into the selection of Kalia beneficiaries. “An amount of Rs 170 crore is involved in the scam. Therefore, we demand an impartial inquiry. Chief Minister, Finance Minister and Agriculture Minister should return Rs 170 crore to the state,” said BJP leader Prithviraj Harichandan.
The Congress also criticised the state government over distribution of financial assistance among the ineligible beneficiaries. “The government cannot retrieve money from the people. They may seek refund from 20,000 government employees and pension holders and not for others,” said Congress MLA Suresh Routray. Congress will hit the streets and gherao all the block offices, district collector’s office against “misutilisation” of public money, Routray said.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has said that the ineligible beneficiaries will be urged to return the money they have received. Sahoo on Tuesday said that the state government had found out that 3.41 lakh fake beneficiaries have been provided over Rs 170 crore under the Kalia scheme.
Meanwhile, the ruling BJD said that steps are being taken to recover the financial assistance received by the fake beneficiaries. BJD spokesman PK Deb on Wednesday said, “The assistance released to fake beneficiaries shall be adjusted in subsequent instalments within five years.”