KAKINADA: A Rs 439-crore scam has been unearthed in East Godavari district following the nexus between District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) and bankers coming out in the open.
In what could be seen as siphoning of funds, the bankers in cahoots with the DRDA officials have shown several self-help groups (SHGs) getting loans worth crores whereas in actual terms no SHG was given any loan.
According to sources, there were also several discrepancies in the figures furnished by the banks and those shown by the DRDA as the latter grossly inflated the loan linkage for SHGs to grab awards and rewards.
It may be recalled East Godavari district is in top of the list in formation of linkange between SHGs and banks in the state. The official figures state that Rs 839 crore was granted to 71,000 SHGs in the district in 2008-09 though only 35,470 SHGs were eligible for the loan with the scope for lending limited to Rs 400 crore only.
“That figure was simply doubled by cooking up account books. In this exercise some bankers and DRDA officials might have been involved as they manipulated the figures,” a banker on condition of anonymity said. For example, as per a DRDA statement, a bank was shown having granted Rs 26 crore to an SHG but the group was given only Rs 18 crore. “Similarly, the records were fudged to show as if loans were granted on a large scale,” an official said.
During 2007-08, 41,000 out of 69,000 SHGs were given Rs 500 crore loan. But official records claim that only 33,000 SHGs have to clear the loans and that they have time till 2010. As per banking norms, an SHG needs at least three years to repay a loan of Rs 1 lakh given under the Pavala Vaddi scheme.
When contacted, Narayana Rao, assistant project director of DRDA, agreed that some discrepancies have crept into the records. Denying that there’s any swindling of funds, he said the figures furnished by the bankers and those given by the DRDA are at variance because of the different accounting periods.
However, a former member of DRDA general body Y Malakondaih has demanded a comprehensive probe into the financial irregularities. He said a social audit is a must for banking transactions involving SHGs.