The Biggest MNREGA Scam in Rajasthan

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published Published on May 17, 2010   modified Modified on May 17, 2010

It’s probably the biggest scam in Mahatma Gandhi National Employment Scheme (MNREGS) in Rajasthan. Its exposes the ways, this flagship scheme of the UPA govt. at the centre is being plagued by embezzlement, fraud and forgery at the grassroots.

The office bearers of Jharni Panchayat under Seemalvada Panchayat Samiti in Dungarpur district made payments of more than 58 lakh rupees without a single work done. And worse, many of those payments were made to themselves or to their close relatives. Now the district administration has decided to recover that amount from the erring panchayat office bearers.

During his tour to the Jharni panchayat the District Collector of Dungarpur Purna Chandra Kishen found many irregularities in the implementation of NREGS works. Then he sent two teams for technical and accounts related investigations. These teams looked into a total of 16 works, those incurred 63, 26,110 rupees. The office bearers could present expense proof of only Rs. 3, 90,344 to the investigating officials. Now the investigators have recommended to recover rest of the amount i.e. Rs. 58, 35, 766 from the panchayat officials.

The investigators have indicted the then Sarpanch Jaisha Bhai Damor, then Gram Sevak and ex-officio secretary Manilal Prajapat and two other ex officials for payments of money without getting  supplies. The beneficiaries included then Deputy Sarpanch Shantilal Labana and his son and Sarpanch Jiasha bhai Damor’s son Ramlal. Now Rs. 20, 2000 has to be recovered from Ramlal. Recovery of Rs. 2, 75,000 will be done from the former Deputy Sarpanch Shantilal Labana and Rs. 2, 35, 000 from his son Pankaj Kumar Labana. The District Collector has instructed the MANREGA Programme Officer that recovery should be completed as soon as possible and if the former panchayat officials and suppliers fail to comply with the recovery order then he should get FIR registered against them.

But suggested action looks short in comparison of enormity of the crime. It was found in investigations that transactions were done without bills and sometimes even without plain vouchers. One payment of Rs 1 lakh was made without issuing account payee cheque. It was also revealed that all proceedings at the panchayat were verbal as there was no system to record the discussions. The Panchayat did not keep any register of its stocks or assets or transactions. Obviously, it seems a case of criminal negligence as well as fraud and forgery. Therefore, just recovery of money may not be sufficient to set an example for all those people who are out to prosper at the cost of poorest people of our country. A criminal case must be lodged against the culprits.

Further readings:

Poor people unite against corrupt sarpanches,

The system strikes back by Vidya Subrahmaniam, The Hindu, 17 December, 2009,    

We will not sit quiet on social audit issue in NREGS, Aruna Roy tells Gehlot government by Sunny Sebastian, The Hindu, 17 December, 2009,    

Violence and threats bring a government to its knees by Vidya Subrahmaniam, The Hindu, 16 December, 2009,    

Planning Commission drafting reforms for NREGA, Livemint,20 October, 2009,

Social audits lead to action against corrupt officials, 

Status of NREGS in Bhilwara, Rajasthan during 2008-09,

Bhilwara Social Audit, Association for India’s Development, 

Social Audit in Rajasthan Undertaken by People, October 12, 2009,

How a social audit makes people accountable, 5 October, 2009,

12 FIRs in Bhilwara after social audit of NREGS, 12 October, 2009, The Times of India,

NREGS under scanner in Bhilwara by Sunny Sebastian, The Hindu, 10 October, 2009,

Audit of National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, 7 October, 2009,

NREGS audit a relief to poverty-stricken by Narayan Bareth, The Asian Age, 12 October, 2009,

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