In a pond repair scheme under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), accounts have been misappropriated to the tune of Rs 3 lakh. Worse, the file of the scheme undertaken in 2007-08 is missing.
An inspection of Deori block by sub-divisional magistrate Iqbal Alam Ansari has found huge irregularities in work being done under the scheme.
The inspection report submitted by Ansari on July 7 to deputy commissioner Vandana Dadel and deputy development commissioner Khurshid Anwer revealed not only fraud in implementation of the scheme but a large number of missing files and a huge number of incomplete schemes.
"In a scheme of Nawahar (pond) repair at Chiknadih village estimated to cost Rs 98,000, the amount mentioned in the report has been changed to Rs 3,98,000. Of this, Rs 2,89,000 has been paid in advance," mentions the report.
There is no provision of advance payment under the act. Among the 13 blocks of Giridih, Naxalite-hit Deori is completely development-starved. The residents of the block have witnessed two massacres of high-profile people in the past four years.
In Bhelwaghati and Chilkhari, 16 and 20 villagers, respectively, including the son of former chief minister Babulal Marandi, had been gunned down by CPI(Maoists).
Ansari also mentioned the junior engineer's physical verification in the report that shows work worth Rs 40,000 has been completed so far. Moreover, the file of the scheme is missing.
Other examples of corruption in implementation of NREGA — a scheme that can directly benefit the poorest of poor and check extremism in interiors — has also come to light.
No new scheme has been taken up in the current or last fiscal. Only 13 out of 71 schemes of 2006-07 have been completed. Work has not been completed in 40 works sanctioned in 2007-08. In Chiknadih (also a panchayat), so far 11 schemes have been undertaken but only five have been completed while files of two schemes are missing.
Ansari also mentioned that several measurement books are pending with the junior engineer and schemes have been sanctioned without seeing the number of job cardholders in the village. So, in some cases more than the assigned number of labourers has been inducted, while in other cases less.
Anwer told The Telegraph: "We will first recover the amount from the contractor of the pond scheme and later file an FIR alleging fraud in government scheme. We have also served a notice to Deori block development officer Sudhir Kumar to reply on the points and accelerate the pace of schemes."
"Such work culture could only help Maoists operating in the area. If we really want to check Naxalism, we have to implement the NREGA properly in places like Deori," said Singh, a Congress leader who is also the district co-ordinator of Congress NREGA cell.
© The Telegraph / July 14, 2009