Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Nov 17:
Arthika Santhamanankadwara Kshatigrastanka Milita Mancha (ASKMM), the representative body of investors who lost their hard earned money in the mega chit fund scam in the state, would gherao the Odisha Assembly on November 20, the first day of its winter session, chief advisor of the Manch Soumya Ranjan Patnaik said here on Sunday.
Launching a broadside on the doublespeak of the Odisha government on its own involvement and that of ruling party leaders in the scam, Patnaik told the media that the stand of the state government in the chit fund affairs is ambivalent.
“While the state government has inked MoU with chit fund companies, the head of the government now says his government had no role in the scam. The CBI has arrested senior BJD leaders for their direct involvement in these ponzi companies. And yet, the party supremo has washed his hands of saying it is their ‘personal matter’. Let the chief minister now tell as to how many MPs, ministers and MLAs would be arrested before he admits the involvement of his party and government,” Patnaik said. As the CBI investigation into the chit fund scam is moving ahead, the government has started changing its tune accordingly, he added.
Displaying the advertisements of the state Crime Branch published in several newspapers on August 28 and 29 this year at the press meet, the ‘Sambad’ Editor said it was hard to believe that the government came to know about the fraudulent dealings of the chit fund companies just three months ago. “Had the government realised it two years ago, lakhs of investors would not have lost all that they had,” he said.
“If the government can identify lakhs of people affected by Cyclone Phailin and Hudhud, why can’t it identify those who lost their money in the scam,” Patnaik wondered demanding that tehsildars be tasked with identifying them.
Senior journalist and one of the advisors of the Manch Rabi Das said though the state government had announced formation of a corpus fund to return the money of the investors, it has maintained an inexplicable silence on whether it has been formed at all and, if formed, its present status.
“The state government had constituted the Justice PK Patra Commission of Inquiry to probe the chit fund scam and asked it to submit its report in three months. But it has already extended its term twice for a six-month period on each occasion. Now that even the second extension period has got over in October this year, the government should inform the people as to whether the Commission has submitted its report or has its tenure been extended further,” Das demanded.
Convener of the Manch, Jayant Das informed that the Manch would take to the streets again demanding immediate amendment to the state and Central rules that make it possible for chit fund companies to loot the people.
Stating that the Manch had sought the help of the National Consumer Protection Forum for refund of the investors’ money, he said about 32,337 investors from 16 districts, who had invested around Rs 23.37 crore in 12 chit fund companies, had already submitted their documents to the consumer courts.
Joint convener of the Manch, Anuradha Subuddhi, requested the remaining investors to seek redressal of their grievances through the consumer courts by submitting the relevant documents.