THOOTHUKUDI: The Lakshmipuram villagers on Thursday alleged that few persons swindled more than Rs 15 lakh from Prime Minister’s Crop Insurance Relief fund in nexus with a Village Administrative Officer (VAO).
Sources allege that a few 'culprits' paid the relief fund to the farmers concerned since the 'scam' has been exposed. However, the villagers sought a detailed probe into the issue. According to them, the fund was swindled from PM's Crop Insurance Scheme relief for the fiscal 2018-2019 and 2019-2020.
The New India Assurance recently released relief fund for 175 farmers, including 97 maize farmers and 63 chilli farmers, of Lakshmipuram. In the list of beneficiaries published at Lakshmipuram VAO’s office, it has been mentioned that the relief amount had been credited to the account of one Paulraj (for 6.3 hectares) and to the account of his wife Leelavathi (for 5.6 hectares). However, it is alleged that the couple owns just 3.5-acre cultivable land.
The villagers alleged that the remaining pieces of land belongs to those who migrated to other places. The culprits managed to get ‘adangal’ (a type of land record) for the uncultivated land without the knowledge of the landowners who settled in other places. The same modus operandi was used by a few others, they claimed.
The villagers suspected the role of VAO who is authorised to issue ‘adangal’, a mandatory document to insure crops. "The VAO denied adangal for the leases of community-owned agricultural lands, but issued to the culprits. At least 17 survey numbers falling under community-owned lands have been misused," the villagers alleged.
"We suspect anywhere between Rs 10 to Rs 15 lakh has been scammed in Lakshmipuram alone," said an elected member of Lakshmipuram, adding that some culprits handed over the fund to the owners as the scam has come to light.
A farmer, who cultivated on community-owned agriculture land, charged that the VAO had denied adangal for him but misused his survey numbers for a person who is nowhere related with his lands.
Another farmer, who is yet to receive the relief fund, alleged that the insurance relief for his survey number was credited to the bank account of a trader. One Avudayathai Murugesan of Ariyanayagipuram (a village 10 km off Lakshmipuram) submitted adangal for various survey numbers of uncultivated lands in Lakshmipuram and received the relief fund. Murugesan told TNIE that he did not know how his account was credited with the insurance relief fund.
Lakshmipuram VAO Chellamariappan told TNIE that he issued adangal to all farmers who requested it. When asked on what grounds he issued adangal for uncultivated lands, he said he issued it since the applicants were farmers. A senior official told TNIE that an inquiry would be made into the issue and the swindled fund would be recovered.