The ruling BJD on Wednesday claimed that 32,000 ineligible beneficiaries availed financial assistance under the state's flagship Kalia scheme, a day after state Agriculture and Farmer Empowerment Minister Arun Kumar Sahoo said that there were 3.41 fake beneficiaries.
BJD spokesman P K Deb rejected the Agriculture and Farmer Empowerment minister's statement made on Tuesday that 3.41 lakh fake beneficiaries have been provided over Rs 170 crore under the Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (Kalia) scheme.
Deb claimed that the number of fake Kalia beneficiaries were 32,000 and not 3.41 lakh as stated by the minister.
The BJD spokesman said: "12,000 large farmers and 20,000 government employees and pension holders are fake beneficiaries."
Deb said that multiple members of the same eligible families who have received KALIA assistance are not ineligible.
"The assistance released to them shall be adjusted in subsequent instalments within five years," he said.
Similarly, he said 9,000 minors who have also received the assistance. Their families are eligible. "We will streamline it in five years," he said adding that the money will be retrieved from the large farmers who have got Kalia assistance.
"The margin of error is only 0.62 per cent. It is not at all a scam as alleged by opposition parties," Deb said.
Opposition BJP, however, demanded an impartial inquiry into the selection of Kalia beneficiaries. "Rs 170 crore is involved in the scam. Therefore, we demand an impartial inquiry. Chief Minister, Finance Minister and Agriculture Minister should return Rs 170 crore to the state," said BJP leader Prithiwiraj Harichandan.
Congress also criticised the state government over distribution of financial assistance among the ineligible beneficiaries.
"The government cannot retrieve money from the people. They may seek refund from 20,000 government employees and pension holders and not for others," said Congress MLA Suresh Routray.
Congress will hit the streets and gherao all the block offices, district collector's office against "misutilisation" of public money, Routray said.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has said that the ineligible beneficiaries will be urged to return the money they have received.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)