Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, June 16:
With the Met department warning of insufficient rains this year, a group of unscrupulous people, assuming that there would be a drought which would inevitably be followed by an agricultural loan waiver, have started a fraudulent farm loan racket in villages and towns of Odisha.
Agriculture departments of both the Central and the state governments are taking measures to contain the situation in the event of a drought. Preparations are in full swing to provide agricultural loans, fertilizers, pesticides etc. to farmers at the appropriate time.
Seizing on the golden opportunity of a possible drought, the unholy combine of unscrupulous employees of service cooperatives and cooperative representatives are working overtime to get loans sanctioned to non-farmers against forged documents and earn handsome amounts as bribes in the process, sources said.
Sources said it’s a win-win situation for both the non-farmer and the racketeers. While the former would earn handsomely in the event of a drought followed by a loan waiver, as has been the practice of governments in the past, the latter would also earn handsomely by way of bribes for getting loans sanctioned against fake documents.
Beneficiaries are not hesitating to offer handsome bribes to those running the racket since loans will be sanctioned against fake gharabari (homestead) land pattas. The racketeers are learnt to be convincing applicants that in the event non-waiver of loans, there is nothing to fear since the service cooperative will not be in a position to take any action against them since the loan would have been sanctioned against a fake land patta.
Moreover, sources said, the racket is all out to get loans sanctioned against fake farmers and usurp crores of rupees in the form of loans.
Misappropriation of agricultural loans through service cooperative societies at different points of time is nothing new, the sources said adding that there are several such complaints against service cooperative societies under Khordha Central Cooperative Bank.
Such serious allegation was leveled against the secretary of service cooperative society of Belapada in Jatni block in 2010.
Now, simliar charges have been brought against the service cooperative society of Muktapur under Khordha block. Investigations are on into allegations of more than Rs 50 lakh being misappropriated in the name of fake beneficiaries against fake land pattas.
However, the branch manager of Bhubaneswar branch of Khordha Central Cooperative Bank denied receiving any allegation or information in this regard while indirectly admitting that this could be possible.
But he insisted that it is not as easy as it seems. According to him, secretaries of service cooperative societies scrutinize land pattas while sanctioning agricultural loans to farmers and they are assisted by the elected representatives –the president and members. Field officer of the bank too scrutinizes the patta after which the loan is sanctioned. Therefore, availing loans through fraud is not that easy a job, he said.
In the event of a lapse at any point, however, fraud is possible, the branch manager said.