The PM-Kisan scheme (Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi) scam in Tamil Nadu has been gaining bigger proportions, with the exchequer losing out huge amounts to the tune of Rs 110 crore. So far state has been able to recover Rs 32 crore in about 10 days by freezing the fraudsters' bank accounts said Agriculture Secretary Gagandeep Singh Bedi on Tuesday.
Talking to reporters in Chennai, Bedi said as per the probe conducted by the department, about 5.5 lakh ineligible persons from 13 districts have availed the cash assistance by providing false information. Kallakurichi and Villupuram districts were reportedly the “epicentre” of the scam with Chengalpattu, Cuddalore, Dharmapuri, Kancheepuram, Krishnagiri, Ranipet, Salem, Tiruvannamalai, and Vellore also being part of the list.
According to Bedi, 18 persons have been arrested by the Crime Branch-Crime Investigation Department (CBCID) that is probing the scam. Bedi also added that over 80 officials have been suspended in connection with the scam.
Under the PM-Kisan Scheme, small farmers with two hectare or less land are given Rs 6,000 per year as assistance in three equal instalments. The scamsters - officials and others - had used the computer passwords of officials to feed in wrong data to illegally cash on the scheme.
According to reports, persons living in Alandur, Ambattur, Maduravoyal, Madhavaram, Sholinganallur and Tiruvottiyur localities that comes under Greater Chennai Corporation, areas that don't have any agricultural lands as per revenue records, have availed funds.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Monday said that action is being taken against those who are involved in irregularities in the PM-Kisan scheme. Chief Minister Palaniswami said some have misused the benefits under the scheme and action is being taken against those people and recoveries of the amount have been made from them.
Agriculture Secretary Gagandeep Singh Bedi said the government will ensure that not one genuine farmer would be affected but the scam. The government will recover the entire scam amount in a month's time and the scamsters will be arrested and action will be taken against them, he added.
Alleging the scam runs into several crore of rupees, DMK President MK Stalin said in Palaniswami's home district Salem alone, 10,700 fake farmers have taken about Rs 4 crore under the scheme and their bank accounts have been frozen.
Stalin said Rs 4.20 crore has been recovered from fake farmers in Cuddalore district and Rs 4.50 crore in Villupuram district and complaints of scam has arisen in Tiruvannamalai, Perambalur and other districts.
The Leader of the Opposition in the Tamil Nadu Assembly has also alleged a scam in the Prime Minister's housing scheme wherein huge sums have been swindled providing fake accounts. Questioning BJP for supporting the ruling AIADMK in the state, Stalin demanded a CBI probe into these scams.
(With inputs from IANS)