Officials committing irregularities will face action: Thorat

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Nagpur, Dec 1 (UNI) The Maharashtra government would initiate strict action against the officials found indulging in corrupt practices while implementing the Prime Minister and Chief Minister's relief packages for distressed farmers in six districts of Vidarbha, Minister for Agriculture Balasaheb Thorat told the state Legislative Council today.

Replying to last week's resolution moved by Diwakar Raote (Shiv Sena), Pandurang Phundkar (BJP) and others, Mr Thorat said his department was ready to investigate any aspect of the package implementation process through a Central agency. However, the minister denied the opposition members' allegation of large-scale corruption by officers in the distribution of equipment and material under the two packages.

The government had received only 80 complaints, most of which were regarding non-inclusion in the list of beneficiaries, Mr Thorat said, adding that this indicated that the distributed material was not of a sub-standard quality, as alleged by the opposition members.

The state government had declared a relief package of Rs 1,075 crore in December 2005 to curb farmers' suicides in Vidarbha, the minister said.

Later, the Prime Minister announced another package of Rs 3,750 crore in July last year, he said, adding that the total fund available under the two packages was Rs 4,825 crore.

Of this, Rs 3,000 crore had been spent till now, Mr Thorat said.

Equipment and material had been distributed to over 1.48 lakh farmers in the six districts of Wardha, Amravati, Washim, Yavatmal, Akola and Buldhana, he added.

Of the Rs 3,000 crore, only Rs 78 crore had been spent on distribution of equipment and materials at the rate of Rs 25,000 per family. Another Rs 72 crore are to be spent so that a total of 60,000 families would be helped by giving them farm-related equipment in three years. The equipment was given as per the requirement of the beneficiary families, Mr Thorat told the House.

Of the Rs 3,000 crore spent till now, Rs 1,700 crore had been paid directly into bank accounts, Rs 1,200 crore had been given to the Irrigation Department to complete pending projects in the six districts, and another Rs 100 crore had been spent on improving the quality of seeds, he said.

Regarding the adverse remarks of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) on the implementation of the packages, Mr Thorat said there were certain misunderstandings at the CAG office, which were being removed by his department's officials.

UNI

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