'E-Mahile' scheme shatters lives of beneficiaries

'E-Mahile' scheme shatters lives of beneficiaries

The scheme lands 106 women in debt trap

In Mysore, another man attempted suicide when bank officials frequented his house for the recovery of the loan, which his wife Meena had taken a year back under the scheme. The status of other 106 women chosen under the scheme across the State is no different. At least six men divorced their wives due to this empowerment scheme while a large number of 'beneficiaries' had to sell their land and valuables to repay their debts.

Bhavya, one of the victims of told Deccan Herald that the mastermind behind the scheme, M D Shivakumar, who ran an NGO named Yashaswini Nagara Matthu Gramin Abhivruddhi Parishath, was chosen to run this flagship scheme of Women Development Corporation of the state government.

Under this scheme, each of these 106 women were supposed to get a desktop, laptop, printers, soil testing kits, educational CDs, internet connection, computer table, project table, spike buster, extension junction box, speaker cable extension, tool kit, VGA extension cable for LCD projector, IRTC currency, installation solutions, digital camera, lamp life with built-in TV tuner card, 72 screens for projection, heavy duty speaker and cordless mike.

Tripartite agreement

The cost of the gadgets given to the women was Rs 1.8 lakh and the government, with the help of the NGO facilitated loan from nationalised and cooperative banks.

There was a tripartite agreement involving the banks, NGO and the beneficiaries. The agreement in English was such that the entire liability of repayment of loan fell on the women whereas the NGO was the nodal agency to see the implementation of the scheme. The NGO director Shivakumar floated a hardware agency under the name India 20-20 and the banks paid the whole amount to him.

After getting Rs 1.8 crore, Shivakumar provided substandard materials to the beneficiaries, Bhavya alleged.  While many did not get a single item, the others got substandard electronic machines, which went for repair within 15 days of receiving them.
"When we enquired with Shivakumar he simply refused to own the responsibility and drove us away," said Bhavya.

Sujatha Upadhya of Anti-Corruption Forum (ACF) who is fighting for the cause of the victims alleged the involvement of banks. "Is it not the responsibility of the bank officials to check what kind of materials Shivakumar is providing? Are they not to ensure the smooth functioning of a flagship scheme of the government?" questioned Sujatha.
Shivakumar is now behind the bars but the ordeal of 106 women is not yet over.

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