In May, when the Centre announced a massive Rs 20 lakh-crore economic stimulus package, it was enthusiastically applauded by the Covid-ravaged country, at the height of the pandemic lockdown.
As it turned out later, the celebrations were apparently premature and the net sanction was very modest compared with the astronomical amount proclaimed by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
Attempting to unravel the exact benefits of the historic financial package of Rs 20 lakh-crore, a Pune businessman Prafull Sarda filed a query under RTI, and got some shocking replies from the Centre.
Among other things, he sought details of the disbursement of the massive Rs 20 lakh-crore package, sector-wise and state-wise and whether any balance amount was pending with the government.
The ministry informed that under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan, an Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme was introduced, which was available till October 31 or till the Rs 3-lakh-crore is sanctioned under ECLGS, whichever was earlier.
"So far, of the sanctioned Rs 3 lakh-crore through the ECLGS, the government has disbursed around 1.20 lakh-crore as loans to various states," Sarda said.
This comes to roughly a loan of Rs 8 per head of the 130-crore Indian population, which will have to be returned at some point in time, he added.
"The government has sanctioned Rs 3-lakh crore of which around 40 per cent (Rs 1.20 lakh-crore) is disbursed. The big question is - Where is the remaining amount of Rs 17-lakh-crore from the total package, eight months after it was announced? Was this another fraud (Jumla) on the Indian people," Sarda demanded.
As per the RTI reply, while Maharashtra took the highest loans under ECLGS of Rs 14,364.30 crore, Tamil Nadu ranked second at Rs 12,445.58 crore, followed by Gujarat with Rs 12,005.92 crore.
Next on the list are: Uttar Pradesh with Rs 8,907.38 crore, Rajasthan at Rs 7,490.01 crore and Karnataka's Rs 7,249.99 crore.
In the lower bracket, the states/Union Territories are: Lakshadweep Islands at Rs 1.62 crore, Ladakh at Rs 27.14 crore, Mizoram at Rs 34.80 crore and Arunachal Pradesh with Rs 38.54 crore.
Sarda said from the unprecedented aid package of Rs 20-lakh crore, only Rs 3-lakh crore was sanctioned under the ECLGS, and from that barely Rs 1.20-lakh crore has actually been disbursed among all the states and UTs in the country.
"The entire country is reeling under the Coronavirus pandemic and the after-effects of the Lockdown since the past 10 months now. Crores of individuals, their families and businesses are suffering, but the Centre has yet to sanction adequate funds to normalize the situation," Sarda said.
He pointed out that the worst-hit sectors include all industries in the manufacturing sectors, the hospitality and tourism industry, the media and affiliated sectors, and the unorganized sectors.
"Besides over 6 crore MSMEs and SMEs have shut down, resulting in more than 15-crore people losing jobs, against a handful of persons who remain unaffected by the pandemic lockdown," Sarda pointed out.
Referring to the unrest among the suffering masses as indicated by the ongoing farmers' agitation, the businessman said it would be prudent "if the government takes urgent measures to release the remaining package funds to help kickstart the economy on top priority".