The two party workers of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) are waiting for the National Council election petition period to end so that they could meet the alleged Rural Enterprise Development Corporation Ltd. (REDCL) applicants.
One of the party workers involved, Gopal Waiba Lama, said they would conduct a meeting and listen to the people if they really want a refund or want to pursue their project further.
“If they want a refund, I will happily do that,” he said. “But if people choose to pursue the projects they applied for, I will guide them.”
Gopal claimed that he initiated the loan for agro-cooperatives with a good intention to guide farmers for rural development and youth employment but it got politicised in Tsirang and he could not pursue it.
“I have started a similar initiative in Dagana and it’s successful. Farmers are happy,” he said.
Following a complaint from the applicants in January this year, Opposition Leader requested Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to conduct a thorough investigation.
An investigation was also carried out by the Office of the Attorney General, which had found the duo had violated trade rules in offering their services to obtain loans from REDCL.
They were asked to refund, return the forms and other enclosed documents to each applicant, through respective gewog administrations.
In 2016, Gopal and Tsirang’s PDP party worker RD Subha called for applications to form an integrated farming and food-processing project in the dzongkhag.
Despite taking applications and fees from people, they did not establish the cooperatives or processes the loan.
“This happened because it got politicised, otherwise my intention was clear. It was a food security project to create youth employment and rural development,” he said.
The duo collected Nu 300 from each applicant. A total of 73 groups, comprising of 407 farmers, became members of the agro-cooperative.
Gopal Lama said they collected money to pay the unemployed youth who were appointed to help farmers write project proposals. He claimed the money was not misused.
Meanwhile, applicants in Tsirang are still waiting to hear from them.
One of the applicants, Sonam Choden, 40, of Phuentenchu gewog said she had applied for a fruit tree plantation project.
“Since the project did not come through, I will be happy with a refund,” she said.
She added there were other expenses incurred.
Another applicant and chairman of one of the cooperatives in Semjong, KB Subba said it has been almost two years since the application was collected. More than the refund, people are worried about the various important documents such as identity card and land ownership certificate copies that were submitted.
“If not the refund, at least getting back our documents is what we think is important right now,” he said.
Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang