The All Loktak Lake Area Fishermen Union Manipur (ALLAFUM) has sought proof of development works taken up under various schemes of the Central government at Champu Khangpok and others villages in and around Loktak Lake, in Bishnupur district.
ALLAFUM appealed to the concerned agencies involved in fake crediting beneficiaries of Champu Khangpok village for taking up appropriate legal action.
ALLAFUM, along with the Indigenous Perspectives Manipur, charged implementing agencies namely PHED, Bishnupur; Chief Medical Officer, Bishnupur; Executive Engineer (PWD), Bishnupur; General Manager MSPDCL, Bishnupur and District Manager of IT, Bishnupur along with Deputy Commissioner of Bishnupur for implementing the PMAGY scheme in Champu Khangpok village and other villages of Loktak Lake with fake beneficiaries.
In connection with the scheme, the director of Indigenous Perspectives Manipur filed an RTI that shows a huge amount has been sanctioned in installments.
According to the RTI reply from the director of (OBC and SC), Manipur, the total 110 households surveyed in Champu Khangpok village for four infrastructure work progress in the village, of the four progress works only one has been completed.
Those four works are construction of one community toilet by PHED Bishnupur, providing emergency ambulance facility of one four-wheeler ambulance and one motor boat ambulance by Chief Medical Officer, Bishnupur; pakka black topping in the village for all weather road by PWD Bishnupur; installation of street light by MSPDCL Bishnupur; provide internet connectivity to the whole village by IT Department Bishnupur. Among all works, installation of street lights in the village was completed according to the RTI response.
All works have been done under Pradhan Mantri Adarsh Gram Yojana (PMAGY) with a total estimated amount of Rs 20 lakh. For construction of community toilet, estimated cost is Rs 3 lakh; for emergency ambulance estimated cost is Rs 3.6 lakh; for pucca black topping estimated cost is Rs 2.81 lakh; installation of street light estimated amount is Rs 4.61; for internet connectivity estimated cost is Rs 5.96 totalling to Rs 20 lakh.
According to RTI reply, under PMAGY scheme, the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry had released Rs 43,20,000 for effective implementation of the scheme as first instalment of gap filling fund for four schedule caste villages namely Karang village and Champu Khangpok of Bishnupur district, Makhabosti village of Jiribam district and Yaithibi Khunou of Thoubal district.
For the first installment, the utilization certificates for six villages namely Thanga Lawai, Leimaram, Karang, Thanga Ithing and Sendra, Nongmaikhong were submitted.
It is stated that while granting approval, the District PMAGY Convergence Committee ensured that the VDP is a robust plan with adequate and suitable convergence with other schemes for saturating the infrastructure needs of the village and would lead to desired improvement in the monitorable indicators. Therefore, it would be made a part of the Gram Panchayat Development Plan.
As per census of 2011, there are 46,844 villages having less than 50 percent SC population. These villages are spread over 570 districts of 25 states and union territories. Out of the villages having less than 50 percent population, only those with a total population less than or equal 500 will be eligible for selection in descending order of their SC population in the first instance under the scheme.
Under PMAGY, financial assistance will be released by the central government to the states in two instalments, up to 50 percent of the admissible grant, which will be released immediately on selection of the villages to enable capacity building, awareness generation, need assessment, preparation of village development plans and commencing infrastructure works identified for undertaking from the gap-filling funds.
Under PMAGY a village convergence committee was formed with eight members including ASHA, teacher, BDO, Sarpanch, ANM, member secretary from different villages not from Champu Khangpok.
ALLAFUM alleged that teachers and ASHA who are members of the convergence committee are not villagers of Champu Khangpok.
Even the deputy commissioner cum chairperson of District PMAGY Convergence Committee, Bishnupur, Neeta Arambam wrote a noticed to the director of (OBC and SC), Manipur on April 12, 2021 that utilisation certificate of Rs 60 lakh of the first instalment gap-filling grant (50 percent of fund allocation under PMAGY) in connection with convergence works undertaken in SC villages under PMAGY of Bishnupur district. Further, claim for second instalment gap-filing grant of Rs 60 lakh in connection with remaining convergence works of PMAGY in the villages to be undertaken and completed by concerned line departments in the district.
While Indigenous Perspective Manipur director Ramananda Wangkheirakpam said that the actual population surveyed and beneficiaries, as they claimed, are fake and not residents of Champu Khangpok floating village.
The fact that funds have been sanctioned for Champu proves, once again, that this floating village does exist and the issue at hand is that the funds to be utilized for the upliftment of the residents are being hoodwinked by some local leaders, the Deputy Commissioner, Bishnupur and the possibly involvement of Principal Secretary (MOBC&SC) and the Secretary, Department of Finance, government of Manipur, he said.
Champu Khangpok Floating Village comprises 132 floating households deep inside Loktak. It is the only natural floating village on earth where fishers have, over the years, begun to settle there with the primary occupation of fishing. Many people in Manipur still have no idea of the existence of the village and particularly because they have no access. It takes at least 1 hour by wooden canoes from Ningthoukhong. It is under Thanga Part I Gram Panchayat.
ALLAFUM secretary Oinam Rajen said that out of the 132, the RTI response indicates that the Manipur government conducted a survey of 110 households. A closer look at the list shows that none of the people surveyed are not residents of Champu.
The scheme was started in 2019 and even completed street lights according to the RTI reply. But it is very shocking and surprising that no street light is seen in the village of Thanga, more shocking is that where is the street in the Champu Khangpok floating village. When the committee came for the survey, it was a big question, Rajen said.
“Not even a single beneficiary among the beneficiaries list of survey report is from Champu Khangpok floating village”, he said.
Given these facts, one cannot help but doubt the other projects and works taken up by such government schemes. Champu Khangpok needs given support and these projects must be tailored to the needs of a floating village. The stolen money must be recovered and channelised to the village while the ongoing work can be redesigned to suit the needs of a floating village. But to ensure that government officials do not steal public money the those involved must be given the fitting punishment, said Rajen.
Champu Khangpok Village Committee secretary Heisnam Arunkumar said no one from the village knows about the scheme. It was discovered when Indigenous Perspective Manipur found from the central government scheme website where a photo of the school was uploaded saying Champu Khangpok school but that in reality, it was not Champu Khangpok floating school.
“I heard a survey had been done at Karang village near the land area for the development work”, Arunkumar said and he added that no survey was done at the Champu Khanpok village. The concern authorities should investigate such fraud agencies or persons involved in crediting fake beneficiaries and capital punishment should be given, he said.
Champu Khangpok floating village needs and requires development after scientific studies in collaboration with the natural ecosystem of Loktak Lake but not with any scheme that may interfere with the natural ecosystem, Arunkumar added.