Vidarbha body for CBI probe into implementation of relief package

Nagpur: An organisation from Vidarbha, the hot-bed of farmer suicides, has demanded CBI probe into alleged irregularities in the implementation of the Prime Minister's relief package for the region as pointed out in a recent CAG report.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in a damning report has come out with serious allegations of corruption in the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister's relief packages amounting to Rs 5,000 crore, disbursed to West Vidarbha in 2005-2006 to stop cotton farmers from committing suicides.

The Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS) has sent a fresh complaint to the Prime Minister urging him to order a CBI probe into the alleged irregularities, Samiti President Kishore Tiwari said in a press release today.

The package involved distribution of two milch animals to each affected family. The government agreed to bear 75 per cent of the purchase cost, while the beneficiaries had to arrange for the remaining amount. A rider that the animals could not be sold for at least 3 years and had to be produced at the time of verification was put in place.

A scrutiny of status reports in Akola, Amravati and Yavatmal by the CAG in March 2010, however, revealed that 385 of the 10,210 animals distributed under the package were not available with the beneficiaries. These had either been sold (473) or were not in the beneficiary's possession (1,867) at the time of verification; 509 other animals had died.

The CAG observed that despite the release of subsidy, objectives behind the package could not be achieved. The state animal husbandry, dairy development and fisheries department, which was to oversee the scheme's implementation, has been blamed for "poor monitoring" and institutional weakness in planning.

Similar discrepancies were also observed in an independent package announced by then CMO in February 2006. The CM had sanctioned a package of Rs 30 crore, which also dealt with 75 per cent subsidy in purchase of two large milch animals or 10 sheep and a goat. Even in this case, reports in the three districts revealed that nearly 37 per cent of the 6,090 animals were not available with the farmers.

While 517 had been sold, 1266 were untraceable, and 466 were reported dead.

Tiwari quoting CAG report said the department is yet to reply on the action taken against the beneficiaries.

It also raised the issue of irregularities and excess payment of compensation to farmers affected by bird flu in 2006. An audit note has been raised on non-payment of compensation for destroyed eggs as announced.

If the Prime Minister failed to order a CBI probe even after the CAG report, the Samiti will move the High Court to seek justice to three million dying Vidarbha farmers',Tiwari, added in the release.