Over 9 lakh ineligible beneficiaries of PM-KISAN scheme detected in Assam

Over 9 lakh ineligible beneficiaries in Assam had availed benefits of Pradhan Mantri-Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN), the federal cash transfer scheme meant for farmers, agriculture minister Atul Bora told the state assembly on Tuesday.

Replying to a query by leader of opposition Debabrata Saikia, the minister informed that 9,39,146 people who were not eligible had been included as beneficiaries for the scheme, which was launched in February last year and provided income support of Rs 6,000 a year to farmers.

In May this year, the union agriculture ministry had stopped payments to beneficiaries in Assam and asked the Assam government for a report and probe into a potential fraud in the PM-KISAN scheme.

Following the directive, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal had ordered an inquiry into the irregularities and entrusted additional chief secretary Jishnu Barua to detect ineligible beneficiaries and submit a report within a month.

On Tuesday, Bora informed the assembly that among the 33 districts in the state, the highest number of ineligible beneficiaries were detected in Barpeta (1.51 lakh) followed by Kamrup (85,711) and Baksa (53,533).

The minister said that initially over 39.39 lakh persons had registered as beneficiaries of the scheme, but over 8.19 lakh of them were declared ineligible by the Centre for discrepancies in bank account details.

This reduced the number of beneficiaries to 31.20 lakh. Of these, the Centre termed another 3.17 lakh as ineligible bringing the number of beneficiaries to down further to around 28 lakhs.

Following a detailed survey conducted across the state, around 18.67 lakh of the beneficiaries were found to be eligible while over 9.39 lakh found ineligible, Bora told the assembly.

The minister said that efforts are underway to recover the sums already allotted the ineligible beneficiaries under the scheme and till date over Rs 94.26 lakh has been collected.

On detection of their roles in inclusion of ineligible beneficiaries in the scheme, the state government has suspended two district agriculture officers and an agriculture development officer. A data entry operator has been dismissed for his role in the irregularities and several cases lodged, Bora said.

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