The Bihar government has launched a special drive to verify cards issued to 1.27 crore MNREGA beneficiaries so as to recover 'ghost payments' made to nearly 20 lakh duplicate job card holders.
This was revealed by Bihar rural development minister Nitish Mishra during his replies to queries by leader of opposition Abdul Bari Siddiqui and BJP MLA Sanjay Sarawgi, in the state assembly on Wednesday.
Mishra said it came to light that nearly 20 lakh job cards had been issued with different numbers and names but many of them had common names as heads of the families.
The minister said large number of "duplicate" job cards have been detected in Muzaffarpur (97,197), Samastipur (87,934), Patna (72,058), Purnia (60,631) and Gaya (51,147).
The irregularity came to light when payment data was being uploaded on management information system. "The verification exercise will be completed by May end this year," Mishra added.
He said over Rs. 70 lakh worth of 'ghost payment' had already been recovered. "From June this year payment against MNREGA work would be made through bank accounts", he announced.
Earlier, Siddiqui had alleged embezzlement of Rs. 12.42 lakh through fake job cards made in the name of 283 beneficiaries in Sonepur block of Saran district.
In a separate submission, Sarawgi has claimed that about 20 lakh "duplicate job cards" have been made in the state, causing a huge financial loss to the state exchequer.
The members alleged 70% of MNREGA wages in Bihar had been siphoned off through fake job entries, even as wages of workers were either not paid or paid partially.