Investigations into the scam have turned a shocker with a sizable number of ineligible beneficiaries being non-natives of Tamil Nadu.
“The bank accounts of about 10,700 bogus beneficiaries have been frozen in Salem district and efforts are on to recover the money. Of them, more than 1,000 ineligible beneficiaries were migrants from north India, who do not own any farmland in the state,” said an official, privy to the investigation.
Most of the ineligible inclusions in the PM-KISAN scheme have happened during April and May following the COVID-19 outbreak.
“The migrants, who lost their jobs, were easily lured into the trap by agents for a commission. Browsing centre owners, who were in nexus with the staff of government departments had uploaded the forged land documents to show migrants as farm owners. Many of the bogus beneficiaries were from states like Rajasthan, Bihar, Odisha and West Bengal. Now, it has become difficult to recover the money from them,” added the official.
As many as 51 persons have been booked so far and six persons were arrested in connection with the scam in Salem. Of the six crores deposited into accounts of ineligible beneficiaries, Rs 3.15 crore has been recovered and efforts are on to collect the remaining amount too.
It is most likely that a significant number of migrant workers could have been included in the PM-KISAN scheme from across other districts of Tamil Nadu too.