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Fishermen forum writes to CM over alleged graft case

Kolkata: Purba Midnapore Matsyajibi Forum, an organisation of fishermen in the East Midnapore district, has written to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, drawing her attention to an alleged incident of corruption, in which a huge amount of money meant for the development of fishermen had been siphoned off.

The letter alleges that there had been large-scale corruption in the implementation of two National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) schemes in the state, namely "Traditional Marine Fish Production (Behundi) Phase III" and "Integrated Marine Fisheries Development Project Phase VI" during 2016-17 and 2017-18 in East Midnapore.

Under these schemes, the fishermen are entitled to receive loan and subsidy. The organisation alleged that some "unscrupulous" office bearers of some cooperatives, in collusion with some senior officials of the state fisheries department, had siphoned off the

fund which was supposed to be channelised as loans to the fishermen in the region.

The schemes provide funds for fishing boats, nets and engines to beneficiaries and members of primary Marine Fishermen's Cooperatives. "Traditional Marine Fish Production (Behundi) Phase-III" is meant for smaller boats, while "Integrated Marine Fisheries Development Project Phase-VI" looks after larger boats.

The fund provided to the beneficiaries under the scheme is made of two components, namely loan and subsidy. The loan amount is refundable, while the subsidy amount is non-refundable. Total subsidy provided under these two schemes in 2016-17 and 2017-18 was estimated as Rs 1,314.88 lakh.

"Only a meager amount was paid to some of the applicants, while the rest, to the tune of nearly Rs 13 crore, had been misappropriated," alleged the letter submitted to the Chief Minister.

The organisation also claimed that the senior officials of the Fisheries department did not take any action against the accused. Debasis Shyamal, the president of the organisation who spearheads the movement, apprehends that he might be attacked by miscreants for taking up the issue with the highest level of administration.

The matter was also brought to the notice of the Chief Minister. The organisation also requested Banerjee to order a probe into the alleged corruption.

The letter further alleged that there has been no public notice

issued by the fisheries department

inviting applications from eligible fishermen to get benefit of the schemes. The names of beneficiaries were enlisted arbitrarily.

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