The probe into the irregularities in the disbursal of aid from the Chief Minister's Grievance and Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF), by the state's Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) has revealed a strong nexus between agents, revenue officials and doctors.
Agents are believed to have pocketed commissions to the tune of 20-25 per cent.
Some of the means and methods used to swindle money from the fund that have come to light are as follows-
People Having Higher Income Declaring Lower Income
As people having an annual income above Rs 2 lakh are ineligible, income certificates showing lower income are made as the first step.
Doctors Attesting Large Number Of Medical Reports On A Single Day
In Alappuzha, a doctor was found to have issued nine certificates on the same day.
In another case, a doctor was found to have issued certificates to multiple members of a family, so that they could claim a higher amount.
Patients Having Small Ailments Producing Certificates For More Serious Ailments
A patient who had a one-day procedure produced certificates for a serious heart ailment in order to get more money from the fund.
Beneficiaries Ignorant Of Money Sanctioned In Their Names
Revenue officials and agents were found to have gotten together to sanction money in the name of a person in Kollam district. They submitted that 76 per cent of the house was damaged in a natural calamity.
When VACB officials contacted him, the man was unaware of any such amount being sanctioned.
Beneficiary Mobile Number Not Found In Application
Agents used to submit their mobile numbers in the application so that they would be alerted as soon as the money was transferred to the beneficiaries' account.
Same Mobile Number In Huge Number Of Applications
The organised and agent-driven nature of the scam can be understood from a case in Pathanamthitta district in which 268 applications were found to have the same mobile number.
Manoj Abraham, the VACB chief has now proposed six-monthly audits of the CMDRF and the posting of special teams at the Collectorates to vet applications received for aid.
Though Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said that no stone would be left unturned to punish those guilty, Leader of Opposition, VD Satheesan said that he believes that local CPI(M) leaders are involved and so the probe would not reach its logical conclusion.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state president K Surendran alleged that the funds were finding their way into the pockets of Communist Party of India (Marxist)-CPI(M) cadres.
According to political commentators, this resembles the diversion of funds meant for flood relief in 2018, which had earned the name 'flood relief scam.'
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