Embezzlement of funds under Social Forestry Scheme

Local elected representatives demand probe over the issue

 Embezzlement of funds amounting to Rs six lakh by a Range Forest Officer, under the Government’s Social Forestry Scheme has come to light in the taluk.

Around 64 beneficiaries were identified from four gram panchayats in the taluk during the year 2013-14 under the scheme. The government had sanctioned Rs 6.37 lakh under a special project for planting fruit bearing saplings in their lands. 

Now, the higher officials of the department have submitted a report citing that RFO S P Mahadev had allegedly produced fake bills and misused the government funds.

According to sources, the RFO had drawn Rs 6,37,000 producing the following bills: Rs 1,54,400 for taking care of plants on the lands of 13 beneficiaries at Anemahal gram panchayat limits; Rs 1,58,750 at Bage gram panchayat limits; Rs 1,65,100 at Kuniganahalli gram panchayat; and Rs 1,58,750 at Halasulige gram panchayat limits.

Under the scheme, pits have to be dug on the lands of the beneficiaries for the planting quality fruit bearing saplings, which have to be taken care of for a period of one year. It has been alleged that no such activities was taken up by the department. The bills have been fabricated that the department had taken care of the plants.

ACF report

ACF G Venkatesh had written to DCF Appu Rao and the previous DCF Lakshman on August 13, 2013, that RFO S C Mahadev had produced fake bills, as no plants had been grown under the scheme. Based on his report, both the officials had not released funds. But, Ganesh Bhat, who took charge as DCF later had released the funds.

Halasulige gram panchayat president H B Manjunath told Deccan Herald that the Forest department had distributed Mango and Sapota saplings to 25 beneficiaries. The then Forester Rudrappa had assured that the beneficiaries take care of the plants and get money from the department. Till date, no money has been distributed, and it has been cited that the plants have withered. 

A complete probe should be taken up where Scheduled Caste beneficiaries have been cheated in the name of the scheme, he stressed.

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