More than five lakh dubious entries of farmers on the beneficiaries' list of the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme has surfaced in Tamil Nadu's northern and western districts. These ineligible beneficiaries have caused the exchequer a loss of over Rs 110 Crore.
However, the state agriculture department claimed that they have recovered around Rs 32 Crore so far. The department ordered a detailed inquiry in the matter after several false beneficiaries were found on the list.
Responding to the scam, Agriculture Secretary Gagandeep Singh Bedi on Tuesday said that the state has arrested 18 people in connection with the case, while three assistant directors in the department have been suspended, action has been initiated against 34 officials and 80 officials who were working on contracts were dismissed. The epicentre of the scam is Villupuram and Kallakurichi districts, he added.
Thorough investigations are underway by the CB-CID teams in Cuddalore, Salem, Kallakurichi, Villupuram and Tiruvannamalai districts. Reportedly, miscreants used the login and password details of an official from the Agriculture department to upload fake entries in the portal and collected Rs.6,000 for each fake entry.
Most of the fake entries were made during the lockdown phase especially from June this year when the left out farmers were given the option to file an online application to avail the scheme, Bedi said. Even people living in places like Ambattur, Maduravoyal, and Tiruvottiyur which come under the Greater Chennai Corporation have availed the scheme even though these places have no records of agricultural lands, he added.
While Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami has assured action against those involved in the irregularities, DMK has ordered a CBI probe into the PM Kissan scam.