A local court in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district on Thursday sentenced five persons to 14 years of imprisonment and slapped a penalty of ₹27 lakh each for siphoning off agricultural scheme benefits meant for farmers.

The case pertained to the Jalanidhi scheme under which farmers were encouraged to create captive irrigation sources through establishment of shallow tube wells, medium tube wells, bore-wells, dug wells and river lift irrigation projects. Farmers were entitled to subsidy assistance under the scheme.

As per the procedure, the Agriculture Extension Officer (AEO) submits proposal for eligible farmers and accordingly, banks sanctions loans.

In 2012-13, one agricultural implement supplier Bangali Charan Jena, along with his son Susant Kumar Jena, and agent Satyanand Patra allegedly hatched a conspiracy by taking Girija Sankar Mishra, manager of the Bank of India branch at Jharpokharia, and Satarupa Mohanty, another bank officer, into confidence.

They came up with a fake list of 131 beneficiaries of the Jalanidhi scheme and loans of ₹1 lakh were sanctioned in their names. As per the scheme, the loan amount should have been transferred to farmers. Instead, the amount of ₹1.31 crore was paid to the supplier.

When farmers lodged a complaint with the succeeding bank manager that the loan amount was never transferred to their accounts, the AEO was questioned. The AEO said he had no knowledge about the list. Subsequently, a case was registered with the Economic Offences Wing under the Odisha police Crime Branch.

The EOW probed the case and concluded that five persons were involved in the corruption.

After convicting the five, Chief Judicial Magistrate of Mayurabhanj Bikash Chandra Dey sentenced them to 14 years of imprisonment and slapped a penalty of ₹27 lakh each. Additional Public Prosecutor (in-charge) Santosh Kumar Prusty said all the accused were convicted under Sections 167, 467, 468, 471, 472, 420, 406, 409, and 120B of the IPC.

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