Private firm dupes crores from farmers in fisheries

Central Chronicle News
Bhilai, Jul 18: A Gurgaon based private company has allegedly duped crores of rupees from farmers of Chhattisgarh in pretext of fisheries. On promise of attractive returns, the company allegedly lured the farmers / investors to invest around Rs 5.5 lakh per half-acre of land.
The company initially developed ponds on the lands of few farmers and paid monthly returns too but very soon it was stopped. The cheated farmers have approached the Police, District Administration and the political leaders with their plea. Police officials are yet to lodge FIR and initiate legal proceedings against the fraudsters.
While addressing media persons here at Supela on Sunday, International Human Rights Organisation (IHRO), Chhattisgarh President Aditya Chandrakar and State Vice President and Legal Advisor Yamini Baghel informed that about 55 victim farmers have approached them with their complaint against the Gurgaon (Haryana) based firm “Fish Fortune Producer Company”. They asserted that the company has duped more than 300 farmers in Chhattisgarh and has done the same in several other states of the country. Alok Sharma, Azmal Khan, Jai Prakash Dwivedi, Devesh Chandrakar, Chameli Sahu, Vijay Sahu and other aggrieved farmers were present in the press conference.
The victim farmers informed that Fish Fortune Producer Company’s MD Bijendra Kumar, CEO Vinay Sharma and their Chhattisgarh based partners Sudhir Bhandari, Manoj Tripathi and Gulab Chandrakar conducted attractive seminars and meetings at a hotel in Durg to convince the farmers for investing in fisheries.
To win the trust of the possible investors, they even took them for a tour to the company’s head office situated in Gurgaon, their residence and other fisheries sites. They even displayed the company’s balance sheets, legal documents, audit reports, PAN card, Aadhar card, etc to the farmers.
They were also made to visit the fish farms in Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh and were explained about the high density fisheries. The farmers in Chhattisgarh were made to visit the fisheries ponds of Gulab Chandrakar, Madan Rasenia and Devesh Chandrakar situated in Balod district.
The company officials and partners asserted that they are working for the government and have introduced the scheme as per the government policies of encouraging fisheries so that the farmers become economically strong. The farmers were made to pay Rs 5.50 lakhs to the company for every half acre of land. In return, the company developed the pond on the farmer’s land, filled it with water, did fencing, security cameras, security guards, putting fish seeds, feeding them and selling the produce in the markets.
Against the Rs 5.50 lakh investment and the land, the company promised to pay Rs 63000 per month to the farmers for 15 months. The company signed an agreement with the farmers and even provided a PDC of Rs 5.50 lakhs to them as a security for their investment.
A victim farmer, Devesh Chandrakar of village Iraguda (Sikosa, Balod) informed that he was highly excited with the project as the Government Agencies recommended the projects on minimum 3 acres of land but this private firm was promising very high yields on just half acres of land.
Devesh paid the amount to the company and within a week, his field was converted into a pond and all the arrangements were made there within no time. The fish seeds were also put in the pond and feeding arrangements were also made. He was very excited and beautified his fisheries farm with landscaping and fountains.
He received the monthly payments for about four months but thereafter the company stopped making payments. Devesh said that the local partners of the company used his farm as a model to convince other farmers to invest. When Devesh demanded his monthly payments from the company, the local partner Sudhir Bhandari allegedly threatened him and tried to prevent him from attending the seminars of the company.
Later the company stopped providing fodder for fishes and soon many of the fishes died due to some disease. Devesh managed the fisheries pond and now he is doing fisheries in a traditional manner in the pond as there is no other option before him.
Same is the story of other farmers but something drastic occurred with Bhagwat Ram Sahu of Kohka. He had taken a loan to invest in this company and when he did not get the returns, he went into deep mental stress and later died. His widow Chameli Sahu informed that Bhagwat Ram Sahu was a Shikshakarmi and fell in the trap of this company.
He sought half acre of land from his in-laws and took loans of over Rs 5 lakhs for investing in this company. The company dug the pond on their land and did not support further. His health started deteriorating due to mental anguish and he breathed last on May 14, 2021. There are many farmers who had taken land on lease and had borrowed money to pay the company.
IHRO President Aditya Chandrakar and Vice President Yamini Baghel informed that they have made representations before the Chief Minister, Home Minister, Agriculture Minister, Chief Justice of High Court, Chief Judicial Magistrate of Durg, IG (Durg Range) and SP of Durg but they have not initiated any legal action yet.
Chandrakar said that of the authorities did not initiate action against the fraudsters within the next ten days, they will approach judiciary and file a Public Interest Litigation. They are also planning to stage ghearo of the Chief Minister’s residence if the government does not take any action.
IHRO office bearers Manish Tikariha, Monalisa Mukhopadhyay, Purnima Thakur, Sufi Jalaluddin Rumi, D Mohan Rao, Harsh Soni, Kavita Chhabra, Sushma Salvatkar, Manoj, Sunita Murkute and others were present.

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