'Not one but hundred of cheques to Vidarbha farmers' widows have bounced'
VJAS writes open letter to PM
By Pervez Bari, TwoCircles.net
Bhopal : The Nagpur-based Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, (VJAS), in an open letter to the Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh has urged him to arrange Central Vigilance Commission probe to investigate the failure of the relief package, given by him, on all fronts in resolving the agrarian crisis pervading in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra state.
The letter suggested that as a first step this can be done by sacking of Relief Commissioner Dr. Sudhir Goyal, at present taking advance management training in the United States of America, and Dr. Harshdeep Kamble recently promoted as Deputy Secretary in Mantralaya, (secretariat of Maharashtra state).
The relief package failed on all fronts due to complete apathy of the administration, poor implementation of schemes under the package, corruption and political interference, the letter stated.
The letter emphasized to address the need to better health care and education for the farming community besides total waiver of debts of Bt. cotton growing farmers whose crops have failed.
The letter to the Prime Minister send by Kishor Tiwari, president VJAS, said: "Nowadays your media adviser Sanjay Baru is very busy in issuing press release after press release regarding one cheque retuned back by the bank due to lack of adequate balance in your relief fund account. However, this is not a single case in isolation as hundred of cheques issued to the farm widows and distressed families have been returned by banks in six districts of west Vidarbha".
The letter pointed out that "The Times of India" newspaper reported that Maharashtra Government has ordered a probe into cheque-bounce case issued to Vidarbha farmer's widow Mrs. Vandana Shende of village Bhadumri in Yavatmal but as per the information available with us that the massive corruption and misuse of funds by Dr. Harshdeep Kamble, the then collector Yavatmal District, who has literally made a mockery of complete relief operations".
As Collector Kamble has not only opened a separate account of Prime Minister Relief Fund but he used it at his sweet wish and will. This, thereby, resulted in diversion of funds to the tune of Rs. 74 lakhs out of Rs.80 Lakhs made available for clearing his personal touring bills and to release of fund to people other than widows of farmers who committed suicides and members of farmers' families who are in distress, the letter alleged.
Meanwhile, VJAS president Kishor Tiwari told this Correspondent on phone from Nagpur that Yavatmal District administration on Sunday approached Vidarbha farmer's widow Mrs. Vandana Shende, whose cheque got bounced due to lack of adequate balance in Prime Minister Relief Fund account, with Rs. 10,000/- in cash which she refused to accept. Seeing this the administration, after making special arrangements, got the money deposited in her account in a cooperative bank of the area despite the fact the banks are closed on Sundays, Tiwari informed.
This was apparently done to nullify the adverse publicity the bounced cheque had received in the national media.
Tiwari said that Mrs. Shende has vowed not to withdraw the said amount and if she withdraws it then she would send it back to Prime Minister Relief Fund. He said that Prime Minister Office had directed to disburse Rs. one lakh each to the widows of farmers who had committed suicide but Dr. Harshdeep Kamble, the then collector Yavatmal District, issued cheques of paltry sum of Rs. 10,000 only.
It may be mentioned here that VJAS under the stewardship of Kishor Tiwari is spearheading the cause of widows and farmers of Vidarbha region.==============================