Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh wants an urgent CBI inquiry into what he called brazen violation and deliberate embezzlement of MGNREGA funds in Uttar Pradesh.
In a strongly worded letter to CM Mayawati — in the run up to the UP polls early next year — Ramesh described the inaction in dealing with the corrupt as a signal by the state to make money by openly flouting all procedures. "And (a message that) nothing will happen ... if you have the patronage of the ruling establishment in the state,” the letter accessed by HT said.
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act was launched by the UPA government in 2006 and has an annual budget of Rs 40,000 crore, funded by the Centre.
The letter dated October 24, said UP failed in acting on findings of National Level Monitors. “Twenty-two reports pointing grave irregularities have been pending for action for months ... Even findings of State Quality Monitor on NREGA implementation in four districts have been ignored," he said.
The labour budget (NREGA funds needed as estimated by the state) in UP for the year has already crossed Rs 5,000 crore. Probe has been demanded into violations made in seven districts — Balrampur, Gonda, Mahoba, Sonbhadra, Sant Kabir Nagar, Mirzapur and Kushinagar.
Ramesh also threatened to stop funds under the scheme to UP, "but as it would penalise the poor for crimes committed by officials and their political patrons" he asked Mayawati’s approval for a CBI probe.
He wrote, "If the state has nothing to hide and has a clear conscience, it should have no objection to our request to have a thorough CBI inquiry …"
But Ramesh assured Mayawati that UP would always get the highest priority in central schemes.