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Loan waiver scam rocks parliament
By Resmi Sivaram March 07, 2013
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NEW DELHI: The issue of irregularities detected by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), the government auditor, in the Rs520 billion farmers’ loan waiver scheme rocked both Houses of parliament on Wednesday till the government agreed to a debate.

In the Rajya Sabha, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made a brief statement assuring the members that stringent action would be taken against those responsible for any irregularity.

“This is a matter which should be entrusted to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) as is the normal practice,” he said.

“If there are any irregularities, which have been shown, I assure the House we will take stringent possible action against the defaulters,” he added.

Earlier, raising the issue during Zero Hour, when members could bring up matters of public importance, senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member Ravi Shankar Prasad had demanded a reply from the prime minister.

He also sought identification and filing of a first information report (FIR) against those responsible for the scam.

Prasad claimed that 3.4 million ineligible people had availed of the facility at the cost of 2.4 million eligible farmers.

He also alleged collusion between bank officials and middlemen in the matter.

Dissatisfied with the prime minister’s response, opposition members trooped into the well shouting slogans forcing Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien to adjourned the House for ten minutes.

Agitated opposition members forced adjournment of the Lok Sabha till noon.

As soon as the House met, BJP members MM Joshi, Gopinath Munde and others raised the matter.

They were supported by members of the Left and the Samajwadi Party who trooped into the well of the House forcing Speaker Meira Kumar to adjourn the House.

Leader of opposition Sushma Swaraj raised the matter during Zero Hour describing it as a “shameful” episode.

“The scheme involving Rs650 billion had been brought in during 2008 in the wake of reports of suicides by thousands of farmers across the country.

“The fact that the government failed to ensure proper implementation of the scheme was a serious issue,” she added.

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