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Where is the ‘corpus fund’ for Odisha chit fund victims, asks Soumya Ranjan

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Reported by Santosh Jagdev

Bhubaneswar, June 18:

Editor of Sambad and chief advisor of Aarthika Sansthamananka Dwara Kshatigrastanka Milita Mancha (ASDKMM) Soumya Ranjan Patnaik today held Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik responsible for the delay in the formalisation of the corpus fund of Rs 300 crore, that the state government had announced ‘to protect the interest of genuine depositors of chit fund companies in the state’.

Soumya Ranjan Patnaik addressing the ASDKMM rally ( pic Biswaranjan Mishra)
Soumya Ranjan Patnaik addressing the ASDKMM rally ( pic Biswaranjan Mishra)

Though the announcement of the corpus fund had been made by the state government last year, it was yet to get the approval of the Controller General of Accounts, Government of India. As a result, lakhs of small and genuine depositors, who have lost their hard-earned money,  have been left high and dry without any sense of hope, Soumya Ranjan said while addressing a huge rally staged by thousands of ASDKMM members at the Lower PMG here.

“Yesterday the government placed the budget proposal in the Assembly and the budget speech referred to a whole lot of things but was strangely silent on the corpus fund. Even the chief minister did not utter a single word on the issue of refund of money to the depositors. His silence proves he is not the common man’s CM, ” he said.

The speakers who addressed the rally came down heavily on the state government over the non-existent corpus fund.

“The state government had announced forming the Rs 300 crore corpus fund and claimed that it would refund the sums within three months. However, not a single person has yet got back a penny. What is further shocking is that the corpus fund has not been approved as yet,” said the convener of the outfit, Mr Jayant Das, wondering why there was not even a mention of the corpus fund in the budge which was presented yesterday.

On behalf of over 40 lakh duped depositors’ families, Patnaik along with a 9-member delegation, submitted a memorandum to the state Finance minister Pradeep Kumar Amat expressing deep concern over the delay in formation of the corpus fund and the issue of refund of money to people who had deposited their money in good faith.

The effect of this scam is much bigger than the horrific 1999 super cyclone as a total number of 40 lakh families ( 2 crore people) have been affected by this mega scam whereas in case of the supercyclone 30 lakh families ( 1.6 crore people) were affected, the memorandum said. It also says the total loss in the supercyclone was estimated at Rs 25,000 crore whereas the chit fund scam involved a whopping amount of Rs 60,000 crore.

The memorandum contains a  charter of demands of the ASDKMM which include :

(a) the state government must fulfill the assurance made by the CM on refunding money to the duped depositors within a specific time frame (b) the state government must ask each Tehsil to identify the duped depositors and fraudulent companies to ascertain which company has taken what volume of money from the depositors (c) seek information from the Enforcement Directorate to follow the money trail for recovery Chit Fund Rally(d)  to initiate investigation by appropriate investigating agency on other fraudulent establishments against whom no case has been registered yet, (e) framing stringent State and Central Laws ensuring 100 per cent refund of  assured amount to the depositors by the chit fund companies and (f)  stringent punishment to the accused on par with the punishment awarded to Rajat Gupta in the Insider Trading offence case in USA and the staff employees while granting approver status to  all the staff and collection agents of chit fund companies, who had taken up jobs with them  to  earn their livelihood because they only can help substantiate the evidence against their employers during the investigation process.

The Finance minister reportedly told the delegation that the government is committed to the corpus fund.

On the demand for enumeration of victims and the money lost, Mr Amat told that he will discuss with the Revenue department to find out whether tehsildars can be asked to work out such a list of victims.

If the demands contained in the memorandum were not fulfilled within a week, lakhs of depositors will return to the Lower PMG in much bigger number than today, the members of ASDKMM warned.