Vijayawada: Actor and Jana Sena chief Pawan Kalyan is poised to bring the plight of the AgriGold victims onto the public agenda through an interface with them here on Thursday after the Uddanam issue in Srikakulam district relating to the kidney patients and the problems of Mangalagiri weavers in Amaravati.
Pawan’s personal assistant Venugopal in a WhatsApp message said the JSP chief will interact with the AgriGold victims at Tummalapalli Kshetraiah Kalakshetram in the city at 11.30 am on Thursday. Around 19 lakh victims in the state have been fighting a lone battle for nearly two years even as all the mainstream political parties remained onlookers.
Their plight caught public attention only when the TDP and the YSRCP in the Assembly crossed swords over the alleged involvement of Agriculture Minister Prattipati Pulla Rao in the purchase of 14 acres of lands possessed by the AgriGold company adjacent to the Hailand Resorts at Pedakakani in Guntur district allegedly through fraudulent means.
The Assembly session miserably failed to focus on the progress of the case under investigation by the Crime Investigation Department (CID) and the measures initiated by the government to ensure that the victims receive their deposits back by way of liquidating the assets in line with the court directions because of the acrimonious scenes that disrupted the proceedings for a whole day.
The fraud came to light in January 2015 when the West Godavari police registered a case against the AgriGold management at Pedapadu police station following a complaint of cheating. This ensured a subsequent raid on the houses and offices of the AgriGold chairman A Venkata Rama Rao and Managing Director A Venkata Seshu Narayana Rao which unravelled the fact that over 32 lakh depositors from Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh were cheated and their deposits amounting to nearly Rs 6,800 crore were misappropriated. Nearly, 110 victims committed suicide in distress as there were no signs of their recovering the hard-earned money from the clutches of the company.
Meanwhile, the AgriGold company chairman himself stated that the company has assets worth Rs 20,000 crore which include 1,700 acres of farm lands, power projects, dairy and dairy products and organic firms.
The High Court direction to the government to take measures to liquidate the assets through public action failed to become a reality for various reasons.
The notification issued by the government inviting biddings for an open auction of 180 acres of lands with dairy and agri-fertilizers unit failed to evoke any response from the prospective bidders due to apprehensions over according permissions in the CRDA (Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) under which the lands at Keesarapalli fall.
A senior official from the CID department on condition of anonymity told The Hans India that over Rs 36 lakh the government spent on media advertisements inviting biddings for auction of properties at Keesara in Krishna district went into the drain since there was no response from the bidders.
Although the lands, power plants and other factories have been attached to the government enabling their liquidation as per the High Court orders, the management has managed to sell away machinery and the other costly equipment surreptitiously thanks to its alleged nexus with the government. Besides, the properties held by the ‘benamis’ of the company remained unattached to the government and were getting disposed and converted into cash, it is alleged.
AgriGold Victims Welfare Association president Mozes said the CID’s alleged failure to arrest all the accused in the case was the reason for the victims unable to get back their money. Of the 19 accused figuring in the case, only seven were arrested, he said. “The company is liable to return deposits amounting to Rs 6,800 crore.
But the proceeds accrued by way of asset liquidation did not cross Rs 16 crore in the last two years,” Mozes commented. He sought to know how much time the government will take to convert the properties of the firm into cash and return deposits to the victims.
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