Whitefly attack: Mansa cotton growers still awaiting compensation

  • Hindustan Times, Bathinda
  • Updated: Mar 19, 2016 13:31 IST
Aggrieved farmers showing the information document received following an RTI plea on the distribution of compensation in Mansa. (HT Photo)

The cotton farmers, who had suffered huge losses due to the whitefly attack, are now fighting another battle to get the compensation, which has already allegedly been given to fake beneficiaries under ‘political pressure’.

The district administration had received around Rs 140 crore for distribution among cotton farmers and it claimed to have already distributed around Rs 137 crore. However, farmers from Budhlada subdivision had alleged that the compensation amount was given to fake beneficiaries.

Suspension of patwaris

“We had received around Rs 40 crore for the Budhlada subdivision, out of which a sum of `38 crore has already been distributed. However, when farmers alleged that they had not received the compensation, we ordered an inquiry and found three patwaris (revenue officials), who had connived in distributing compensation among fake beneficiaries. They were immediately suspended and now we are trying to recover the compensation from fake beneficiaries,” said SDM Budhlada Kala Ram Kansal.

The three patwaris, who were suspended after the inquiry in December last year included Balbir Singh, Teja Singh and Karamjit Singh.

The probe, which is still going on, had found that around `30 lakh was given to farmers and aides of local politicians, who had not grown cotton crop.

“We have recovered half of the compensation amount given to such people. The district police have been informed about those who had claimed compensation, but were not genuine beneficiaries,” said Kansal.

The HT has learnt that there are more than 400 farmers in Budhlada alone who claimed to have not received compensation for their damaged crop. Surjan Singh of Malsinghwala village has been running from pillar to post to get the compensation.

“I have now lost all hope of getting compensation. Someone else has got it on my behalf. The village sarpanch took the compensation and he is not ready to acknowledge it despite all the evidence against him,” said Surjan Singh, who has got the record through an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, which shows it was tampered with.

Another farmer alleged that SAD leaders had influenced the whole cheque distribution system by favouring their aides. The most affected villages are Birewala Dogra, Mal Singhwala, Phoolwala Dogra, Dalelwa and Chak Alisher where farmers have been protesting for this injustice. Mansa had always had a dubious record when it came to the distribution of compensation among farmers.

In May last year, the financial commissioner (revenue) filed a charge-sheet against a tehsildar and four naib tehsildars of the revenue department after an inquiry into the illegal property transfer in land acquisition at Gobindpura village for a private thermal plant.

In connivance with officials of the revenue department at the village and tehsil level, a number of farmers — who had neither installed a motor pump nor had got a ‘kotha’ constructed at the pumpd in their fields that were acquired for the thermal plant — had become beneficiaries.

When asked about the regular inconsistencies in distributing the compensation ,SDM Kala Ram Kansal said that due to corrupt lower rank officers these irregularities are hardly scrutinised.

“To create a fake list of beneficiaries, we can only hold a patwari responsible for it. However, irregularities occur due to political pressure.”

Deputy commissioner Varinder Sharma said, “I have asked the SDM to conduct a probe and fake beneficiaries will be brought to book. We have also asked the revenue officials to quickly complete the whole process of compensation.” It has been around 3 months since the patwaris were suspended, however no arrests have been made and farmers are still running around to get their due.

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