Thiruvananthapuram: Cooperative financial institutions in the country are notorious for financial irregularities. The latest scandal in this respect was unearthed in a Kerala-based cooperative bank run by CPM members.
The Central government is reportedly planning to set up a national investigation agency on the lines of the Enforcement Directorate to probe irregularities, including financial frauds, in the cooperative sector. This move is in tandem with the formation of a separate Union Ministry of Cooperation headed by Home Minister Amit Shah.
The Enforcement agency for cooperatives will be formed with legal backing that allows for direct intervention. It would have authority to inspect all the cooperative societies, operating with a Reserve Bank of India (RBI) licence.
Early this month the Union government had announced the formation of a separate Union Ministry of Cooperation. The subjects coming under the Cooperative sector was so far was looked after by the Union Ministry of Agriculture, though as per the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution the cooperative societies are a State subject.
Right-wing eye on Kerala cooperatives
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the right-wing organisation behind the Sangh Parivar outfits, has directed its cooperative arm Sahakar Bharati to give special focus for gaining a foothold in the CPM-dominated cooperative sector in Kerala.
Sahakar Bharati had launched 'Akshayasree' in Kerala in 2010, modelling on the successful Kudumbasree Mission which is aimed at eradicating poverty.
Akshayasree now has 8,400 units and 25,000 more units will be started in the next two years. It also aims to expand the supermarkets, Grameen Samrudhi Store, that were set up to sell the products made at Akshayasree.
Unable to register in Kerala, the Sahakar Bharati societies are currently being registered with the multi-state co-operative societies. Of late Karnataka's KAMCO, and the Bharath Agro Processing and Marketing Cooperative (BAMCO), which operates in Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu, have become active in Kerala.
Akshayasree set to become a nodal agency?
Sahakar Bharati has submitted an application to the central cooperative department to make Akshayasree a nodal agency.
Currently, Kudumbasree is the nodal agency in Kerala to receive central funds.
Also, steps have been initiated to implement the 'Akshayasree Gokul Mission Project' in Kerala through the ‘Rashtriya Gokul Mission’ that aims to increase milk production by providing superior-breed cows to 50 households.