Odisha Agriculture dept clarifies on ‘ineligible’ KALIA beneficiaries row

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Bhubaneswar: The Odisha Agriculture and Farmers’ Empowerment Department today issued a clarification stating that “three lakh persons from eligible families, belong to family in which another person has also received assistance”.  The department also admitted that such person could be a minor.

The clarification comes a day after Agriculture Minister’s statement on the identification of ineligible KALIA beneficiaries.

Here is the response of the Agriculture department:

  • A record 51.05 lakh beneficiaries have been assisted under the KALIA scheme. The funds have been sent all through electronic bank transfers. Thus every rupee spent is accounted for and can be traced from the government to the farmer’s account.
  • The entire exercise from identification of beneficiaries to their final selection has been done in a record time of three months. It involved a mammoth exercise with the process of the selection of beneficiaries being done in amulti stage and exhaustive process. The initial draft lists were comprehensively published in each of the 7000 Panchayats of the State in every phase. The people were given the option to exclude themselves from this list by submitting application forms at the GP level. After this, scrutiny was done at 3 levels at the GP, Block and District to determine eligibility of the beneficiaries. Further at the state level, use of data analytics was made by using existing government databases to determine eligibility.  This comprehensive and exhaustive process ensured that out of 1.19 crore applications available, only 51.05 lakh beneficiaries were selected. It may be mentioned that such use of an extensive process and use of computer based databases and data analytics has been unprecedented in any Government scheme.
  • Because of this huge exercise out of the 51.05 lakh beneficiaries, only 32,000 have been found to be ineligible, belonging to the category of large farmers and government servants/pensioners. That the ineligible beneficiaries are less than 1 per cent shows the robustness of the process followed in the scheme and the technology used in this process. Necessary steps will be taken to retrieve the funds from the ineligible beneficiaries.
  • The fact that 99 per cent of the beneficiaries are eligible and that funds can be traced from the Government to the final beneficiary sets a higher benchmark in any government scheme not only in the state but across the country.
  • About 3 lakh persons from eligible families belong to a family in which another person (which could be a minor) has also received assistance under the scheme. None of the persons who received the assistance was an ineligible beneficiary. However, the KALIA scheme envisages that there will be only one beneficiary in each family. Thus the assistance sent to multiple members of the same eligible family will be treated as if the next instalment, which is due under KALIA for that family, has already been received by that family.
  • KALIA scheme has been universally acclaimed not only in conception but also in its execution. The scheme was unique in focusing on small and marginal farmers; sharecroppers and landless agriculture households who are often not included in many agricultural schemes. The scheme has universal coverage of these categories and the money is directly being credited into the bank accounts using technology without any face to face intervention.
  • The participation of the people in the scheme has been exemplary. About one lakh people requested for their exclusion from the draft lists that were published at different stages through red forms and about 2000 people have sought to voluntarily refund the KALIA assistance.
  • Apart from setting new standards in people’s participation, over 50,000 government servants at different levels were engaged in a coordinated manner to select the beneficiaries. The KALIA scheme has implemented the concept of a Universal Basic Income for the first time in the country and has changed the discourse in farmers’ empowerment. The execution of the scheme wherein over 99% of the beneficiaries were selected from the eligible categories has been exceptional.

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