PM-Kisan norms eased for Covid, TN probes Rs 110 crore fraud, 18 held -Arun Janardhanan
-The Indian Express
The officials involved in the scam allegedly shared the login and password details with brokers. The latter, in turn, earned up to Rs 2,000 per beneficiary. Since March, two instalments have been paid out per beneficiary.
Channai: THE Tamil Nadu government has discovered a scam amounting to over Rs 110 crore in the PM-Kisan Scheme, with money withdrawn fraudulently online with the help of government officials and local-level politicians. Initial estimates show nearly five-and-a-half lakh people may have benefited as advantage was taken of clearance norms being relaxed after the Covid-19 lockdown began.
Principal Secretary Gagandeep Singh Bedi said they first noticed the unusually high number of beneficiaries being added to the scheme in August, especially from 13 districts. While 18 people, all ‘agents’ or ‘brokers’, have been arrested, 80-odd officials associated with agricultural schemes have been dismissed and 34 officials suspended, Bedi said. The suspended officials include three assistant directors of the Agriculture Department.
Of the Rs 110 crore-plus siphoned off, Rs 32 crore has been retrieved, mostly from bank accounts directly. The government said they expected to retrieve the remaining amount too, within 40 days.
Many people who were added onto the list of beneficiaries illegally were reportedly unaware of the fraud, with men posing as officials asking them for their details so that they could receive “Corona cash” from the government.
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The Indian Express, 9 September, 2020, https://indianexpress.com/article/india/pm-kisan-norms-eased-for-covid-tn-probes-rs-110-crore-fraud-18-held-6588643/