67-year-old victim of Karuvannur bank scam struggles to make ends meet

Chandramati in her house in Porathissery in Thrissur. PHOTO: Manorama

Porathissery (Thrissur): Bank frauds too are a risk that public in India need to be wary of besides other hazards. In Kerala, scams are unearthed in cooperative banks at regular intervals and victims are most often those who just managed to save a few lakhs after a hard grind in their working years. Those duped by the scam-hit Karuvannur Cooperative Bank are mostly labourers and they are now desperately seeking their hard-earned money back.

Chandramati, who entered the twilight of her life, is one driven to the wall after the scam perpetrated by the CPM-led governing council of the Irinjalakuda-based bank.

At 67, Chandramati, a resident of Manapetti House at Porathissery in Irinjalakuda Municipality, stares at a blank future. She is yet to come to terms that her life savings of Rs 4 lakh, which she deposited in the bank to support her old age, vanished into thin air one fine morning. Her health will no longer permit her to take up the daily wage jobs she did all these years.

For Chandramati, who took pride in not borrowing a single paise from anyone, life has turned upside down. She is now desperately seeking the assistance of others to get two square meals a day. She has no idea how she will meet her day-to-day expenses. Even now, it costs her at least Rs 3,000 every month for medicines alone. She is also suffering from a kidney illness, making it difficult for her to venture out of her deteriorated house.

Earlier, like other depositors, she too had queued up before the bank to take out the money as reports of the scam emerged. Now, her health has deteriorated to such an extent that she can't do the rounds of the bank to lay hand on whatever amount is paid back in tranches.

Her back pain has aggravated, and she has to undertake treatment at a major hospital in Thrissur instead of the Irinjalakuda General Hospital.

Last year, the bank's CPM-led governing council was sacked and it was placed under the watch of an administrator as the fraud came to light. Before that, several borrowers received recovery notices for amounts greater than they had borrowed. The borrowers approached the Registrar of Cooperatives and a probe unearthed a multi-crore scam. The irregularities at the bank are pegged at Rs 300 crore, but the government estimates it to be only Rs 150 crore.

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