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Mystery around who 'ate up' funds meant for Gujarat farmers suffering from crop failure

Farmers from Aniyali village: Real beneficiaries
By Our Representative
Claiming to have unearthed a major scam in the distribution of crop insurance funds to Gujarat farmers, a senior farmer rights leader, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that the real beneficiaries are not getting the amount due to them. Instead, he alleged, "non-farmers are benefitting... names are being changed..."
Rabari told news persons in Ahmedabad that an allocation of Rs 3,695 crore was announced by the Gujarat government as crop insurance benefit to the farmers who had suffered due to insufficient rainfall. The farmers who lost more than 33% of the crop were to get a relief of Rs 6,600 per hectare (ha) up to 2 ha, while those who had suffered less than 33% of the crop were to get 4,000 per ha up to 2 ha.
"Finance minister Nitin Patel announced during his budget speech on Wednesday that the state government had disbursed Rs 1,200 crore to the beneficiary farmers against the destruction of crop due to poor rainfall. However, facts have come to light suggesting that a large part of this amount may have gone to non-farmers", Rabari said.
Displaying before news persons half a dozen farmers belong to the Surendranagar district who had filled up forms for getting the benefit after it was assessed that they had lost more than 33% of the crop, Rajubhai Karapada, a KEP activist said, "These farmers found out from the local government office that their names were deleted, and instead non-farmers' names were added." One farmer, Ghanshyambhai, said, on inquiry he found out that someone had entered in the name of his mother, Samuben, who had died 15 years ago.
Gujarat government should act within 10 days, institute an inquiry into the scam by appointing a retired High Court judge
"The agricultural land is currently being cultivated by us four brothers. We went to the government office to find out what had happened to the benefit we were to get. Not only did we find that our the application was made in our mother's name, also that the amount, Rs 13,800, was sent to someone else's bank account", Ghanshyambhai said.
According to Rabari, "We have been able to detect 24 such cases in just one village, Anilyali, in Lakhtar taluka of the Surendranagar district. These are all confirmed cases of beneficiaries' amount being diverted to someone else's bank account. We have got documentary proof. We have been getting information from other parts of Gujarat too."
Rabari contended, "While the scam amount of these farmers does not come to more than Rs Rs 3.5 lakh, this appears to be a drop in the ocean. The diversion of funds cannot take place without the blessings of someone at the top. Password of the computer where details of funds transfer are available is only with the local village revenue official (talati), the panchayat chief and the taluka development officer."
Warned Rabari, "The Gujarat government should immediately institute an inquiry into the scam by appointing a retired High Court judge. I have written a letter to chief minister Vijay Rupani placing all the facts before him. If he prefers not to act within 10 days, we will be forced to file a public interest litigation in the Gujarat High Court."

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