According to the CAG audit, deceased persons, as well as ineligible in-service and retired government personnel, were listed as beneficiaries of the Pradhan Mantri-Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-Kisan) Scheme in Nagaland.
Cross-verification of the Personal Information Management System (PIMS) and beneficiary data found that 662 out of 9,951 in-services and 82 out of 1,854 retired Government personnel were listed as beneficiaries despite being ineligible, according to the report.
According to the "Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) report on Social, Economic, General, and Revenue Sectors (For the year ended 31 March 2022)" submitted in the NLA on September 14, Rs 1.05 crore was paid (up to September 2021) to ineligible recipients.
Even the deceased were receiving payments, according to the study, which cited an audit of the scheme's Management Information System (MIS) records in September 2021.
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According to the report, there were 108 inactive beneficiaries owing to death, with 86 deaths posted to the portal and the dates for the other 22 beneficiaries unknown.
Further investigation found that 132 payments of Rs 2.64 lakh were deposited to 43 recipients' bank accounts even after their deaths.
According to the CAG, the period it took the separate offices to post-death cases on the scheme site ranged from 25 to 868 days from the date of death of the beneficiaries, with the delay resulting in the credit of payments after death.
According to the report, in response to the findings, the State Government announced (December 2021) that the situation would be verified in accordance with the Audit findings, and the appropriate recovery procedure would be launched.
Multiple beneficiaries with the same bank account and phone number
The audit also discovered that 14 bank IFSC and bank account numbers were linked to 28 beneficiaries, 27 of whom were women.
It was discovered that 24 out of 28 people got at least one instalment totalling Rs 2.78 lakh. Furthermore, 55 bank account numbers with distinct IFSCs were linked to 110 beneficiaries, of whom 109 were "Active."
Interestingly, although having identical bank accounts, the beneficiaries were dispersed among Kiphire, Peren, Tuensang, Wokha, and Zunheboto.
An examination of the beneficiary database indicated that 8,191 individuals gave several cell phone numbers. Multiple recipients with the same cellphone number is a red signal that necessitates more rigorous verification of their eligibility, according to the CAG.
According to the study, Rs 2.36 crore was given to 2,053 ineligible recipients and has yet to be recovered.
Meanwhile, the CAG said that 657 ineligible beneficiaries were identified due to the engagement of other stakeholders such as destination banks and VCs in Dimapur and Wokha.
The practices used in Wokha and Dimapur districts to verify beneficiary eligibility may be used in the remaining districts to weed out ineligible beneficiaries, according to the report.
Genuine beneficiaries ‘deprived’
In addition, while ineligible recipients received benefits, some genuine applications were turned down owing to inaccurate entry of unique biometric identities, bank account numbers, farmers' names, and so on.
The CAG stated that an examination of data/reports from the portal revealed a lack of suitable input controls. Such incorrect inputs would jeopardise the database's legitimacy and integrity, and more recipients would be unable to profit from the initiative, according to the statement.
Instances include 107 recipients who have yet to get any payout because the gender value submitted was 'Null' (it should have been M/F/T), and 401 farmers who have failed to collect benefits due to incorrect data entry by State Government personnel.
Benefits were withdrawn in respect of 9,039 farmers after November 2019 because their names did not correspond with their unique biometric identity, and 9,734 farmers' unique biometric identity was not confirmed.
The State Nodal Officers, on the other hand, did not disclose these flaws to stakeholders and did not share the list of rejected data to enable them to submit or update the rectified data in the portal, according to the report.
On December 20, 2021, the government recognised the facts and stated that additional efforts would be made to correctly record the farmers' qualities in the PM-KISAN database. The CAG further urged the department to implement proper input control/validation to ensure data accuracy.
The 'Performance Audit on the Implementation of the PM-Kisan Scheme in Nagaland' ran from 2018-19 to 2020-21. The plan is a central sector scheme funded entirely by the Government of India and operated through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT).
Among other things, qualifying farmers receive a cash incentive of Rs 6,000 per year per farmer family, payable in three equal instalments every four months.
For the audit in Nagaland, a sample of four districts, eight blocks, and twenty-four villages was chosen using Stratified Random Sampling.
According to the study, 2,13,682 applications were approved out of 3,44,983 submitted, while 71,196 applicants were denied because they were either unqualified (68,684) or provided insufficient facts (2,512).
The implementing agency was awaiting clearance of 60,105 self-registered farmers' applications, while new beneficiary registration was temporarily halted in March 2020 since the State had met the overall saturation objective.
Although the State Government met the objective, the CAG found the scheme's execution was flawed. Beneficiary lists, for example, were generated without any checks and balances, and recipients' ownership of cultivable land was not confirmed.
The beneficiaries also did not correspond with the Nagaland Agriculture Census 2015-16, and no landholding records were kept at the village level, according to the report.
According to the study, the temporary suspension of new registrations robbed 23,144 scheme participants of their benefits in four test-checked areas.
While Review or Monitoring Committees were not constituted, there were delays in the constitution of Grievance Redressal Monitoring Committees, it said.
The CAG advised the State Government to identify eligible beneficiaries and cleanse the database in accordance with the plan parameters. Beneficiaries' self-declarations and ownership of cultivable land, as anticipated in the Operational Guidelines, should be confirmed.
Furthermore, it asked for the complete validation of bank accounts as well as the updating of Optional Attributes such as father's/husband's name, cellphone number, date of birth, landholdings, and so on.
The CAG advocated conducting state-wide beneficiary verification by involving destination banks and VCs to filter out ineligible beneficiaries.
It also encouraged efforts to establish accountability for non-verification of submitted applications, as well as the recovery of funds improperly credited to ineligible recipients.
It also suggested enhancing the grievance redressal procedure to ensure that complaints are resolved in accordance with the plan standards and conducting social audits.
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