Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Dec 2:
The sincerity of the Odisha government to refund money lost by duped depositors in the chit fund scam has come into serious question.
The state government had constituted the Justice RK Patra Commission of Inquiry on July 9 last year to probe the mega chit fund scam and identify the genuine depositors for refund of money. But nearly one and a half yers later, the Commission is yet to prepare the list of the depositors.
In sharp contrast, the Justice Shyamal Kumar Sen Commission of Inquiry constituted in April last year to probe into the Saradha chit fund scam, had brought out the first list of depositors within five months in September.
Till date, the West Bengal government has already released Rs 166 crore to about 3,95,000 depositors while not a single depositor in Odisha is yet to get a single pie.
The Justice Patra Commission had received about eight lakh affidavits from the depositors by October 31 this year while the state government has clarified that it would take time for verification of these affidavits.
On the other hand, Justice Shyamal Kumar Sen Commission of Inquiry had received 17.41 lakh affidavits by June 29 last year of which it had brought out the first list of 1,03,333 depositors, who had deposited Rs 10,000 and less, within just three months. The Commission, by February this year, has provided cheques to over 3.5 lakh depositors.
The West Bengal government had made a budgetary provision of Rs 167 crore in September last year to refund the money to the duped depositors while the Odisha government, which had announced a corpus fund of Rs 300 crore last year for this purpose, made budgetary provision for it in the supplementary budget passed in the House yesterday.
The blame for the delay, however, can hardly be laid with the Justice Patra Commission since the terms of reference (ToR) framed by the state government made no mention of identifying genuine depositors. The government simply assumed that it was part of the brief of the Commission.
This apart, the West Bengal government had opened a dedicated website to apprise the depositors of its work and directives of the Justice Shyamal Sen Commission while the Odisha government has not done anything of the sort leaving depositors in the dark about the progress.
Besides, the Justice Patra panel is also bogged down by inadequate manpower and necessary equipment to expedite its work.
The panel had asked the state government to provide at least 100 data entry operators and 50 computers to verify the affidavits of the depositors. But the government is yet to provide the human and material resources asked for.
The panel is now working with only six senior assistants, one section officer, one personal assistant, one stenographer, one typist and seven peons.
Not only this, the request of the probe panel to provide a three-member lawyers’ panel to assist in its work, made in October last year, has not yet been met.
Sources in the Commission said that of the eight lakh affidavits, it has verified 5.5 lakh while verification of the remaining 2.5 lakh affidavits is yet to begin.
The Commission is scheduled to conduct personal hearings after verification of all affidavits it has received so far after which it will prepare a list of depositors.
However, going by the pace of work in the Commission, it is not known when the Commission will complete its work.