1st MVA suspension: Crushed like candy

Mumbai: Nothing would have been more mocking for distressed farmers. The instant a farmer logged onto the URL Link provided by the Commissioner for Cooperation and Registrar, Cooperative Societies, it introduced him to the popular ‘candycrush’ game, rather than giving valuable input about the government’s much touted crop oan waiver.

The ‘candycrush’ game cooked state civil service officer Satish Soni’s goose; taking a grim note of the grave lapse, the MVA government has suspended Soni -- the Commissioner for Cooperation and Registrar, Cooperative Societies.

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The MVA government is understandably livid – one of its first announcement was about the ambitious crop loan waiver for farmers with loans up to Rs 2 lakh.

The Principal Secretary of the Cooperation Department Abha Shukla issued the suspension order late Wednesday evening. This is in keeping with the zero threshold policy of the MVA government led by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray towards administrative lapses, even though it has resolved to reward officers who impress with their conduct.

This is the first suspension of a senior officer since the Thackeray-led government was sworn in on December 28 last year.

The government, which plans to implement the crop loan waiver scheme to benefit 30.57 lakh farmers with an outgo of Rs 21,210 crore in the two phases starting March, was attacked by the opposition and farmer organizations after the URL Link provided by Soni’s office started showing the ‘candycrush’ game and not the relevant video giving details about the crop loan waiver.

Initially, the department of cooperation, which is the nodal department for the implementation of crop loan waiver scheme, thought it was a technical snag or a computer virus.

However, later the department realised that in the URL link the concerned staff of the Cooperation Commissionerate had left space. The URL link was http//bit.do/mjpsky 2019.

The space was before 2019. By the time the users logged onto the URL link, they were blinking at the ‘candycrush’ game on their screen. The government cut a sorry figure.

The Commissionerate realised its mistake and released a new URL link without space -- http//bit.do/mjpsky2019. Soni is believed to have addressed a letter to the Commissioner of Agriculture on January 7, 2020, correcting the mistake.

However, it was too late in the day with Thackeray and his colleagues in the cabinet voicing their displeasure and recommending immediate action for the blunder.