After Sheep, Bovines at Centre of Animal Husbandry Scam

Hyderabad: The Anti-Corruption Bureau, days after arresting four senior government officials for graft in a sheep purchase scheme, unearthed another such fraud — this time, with cows — wherein Rs 3 crore was found to have been diverted under the guise of purchasing Punganur cows under the Buffalo Distribution Scheme.

Sources said that officials colluded with private parties in purchasing cows under the scheme from Andhra Pradesh, failed to make payments despite records indicating all payments were made to beneficiaries and allegedly diverted funds to benami accounts, as was the case in the sheep purchase scam.

As per the scheme introduced by the previous BRS government in the state, the government provided a subsidy for the purchase of two lakh bovines to the tune of Rs 800 crore. The scheme was launched on September 1, 2018, after receiving 12,467 applications between June and July earlier that year.

The scheme calculated the cost of a buffalo at Rs 80,000, of which non-SC and non-ST farmers had to pay Rs 40,000, while SC and ST farmers got a 75 per cent subsidy and had to pay Rs 20,000.

Based on the applications received from farmers, the animal husbandry department purchased cows from Punganur farmers of Andhra Pradesh and brought them to Telangana state for distribution.

“At least Rs 8.50 crore was supposed to be paid to Punganur farmers who sold their cows. Officials have made payments of Rs 5 crore to sellers’ accounts, with Rs 3.50 crore pending. As the farmers started pressurising them, the officials paid Rs 50 lakh in cash to farmers just a month before the Assembly elections and diverted Rs 3 crore to benami accounts,” a source said.

Farmers filed a complaint over pending payments with the ACB, following which the ACB took up the case. ACB will seek animal husbandry department records in connection with the purchase of cows, distribution of cows and beneficiary details for verification.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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