DADELDHURA, Aug 12: Government officials and Haliya leaders in Dadeldhura district have allegedly pocketed most of the funds released for the rehabilitation of the freed Haliyas or indentured farmers. The Haliyas are former bonded laborers who worked as farmhands for landlords.
Funds meant for those landless former Haliyas have enriched Haliya leaders and government officials, according to those deprived of their rights. Due to this, the promises of reforms for the Haliya community have been limited to words only.
While the situation of freed Haliyas has remained unchanged, those working for their 'welfare' have become rich overnight. Haliya leaders, government officials and middlemen have reportedly built houses in the district headquarters within a year of the fund release. Some of them have also managed to buy lands and houses in tarai districts, the locals accuse.
The government had adopted a policy to mobilize the fund through District Land Revenue Office, Dadeldhura, in coordination with chief district officer. Later, the government changed its policy and channelized the funds to the Haliyas via banks. However, most of the rehabilitation funds ended up only in the pockets of Haliya leaders, officials and middlemen.
Around 1,200 freed Haliyas were provided ID cards after categorizing them either in A, B or C groups. As per the categorization, funds were provided for 200 Haliyas to purchase lands, 400 Haliyas to build houses, and other 600 Haliyas to repair their houses. The government had released Rs 240 million for their rehabilitation programs, according to the District Land Revenue Office.
Among the eligible Haliays, 12 Haliays who were listed as beneficiaries for the fund for house construction and 25 Haliyas listed for house repair did not come in contact with the land revenue office to get their funds. In total, around 45 Haliays did not come to claim the funds.
According to Ashok Sarki of the land revenue office, they have made payment of around Rs 230 million.
Upon receiving the money, many Haliyas complained of receiving phone calls instructing them to give certain portion of the fund because they would not have received the funds without their help.
According to the Haliyas, middlemen came to their houses and collected amounts ranging from Rs 20,000 to Rs 100,000. They claimed that the middlemen kept some percentage of the money and submitted the remaining amount to the chief district officer, Haliya leaders and officials of the land revenue office.