Close on the heels of Rs 1.3 crore irregularities coming to light after the social audit of the NREGS in Bhilwara district, the government seems to be divided over action to be taken against the erring officials.
Social activist led by the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) carried out a 12-day social audit in Bhilwara district, about 250 km south of Jaipur. At the end of the exercise, irregularities worth Rs 1.3 crore were found.
Aruna Roy, chief of MKSS told the media on Wednesday that whoever has been involved in corruption should be strictly punished, without which there is no use of social auditing. She said “all the embezzled money should be collected back and I is committed for it”.
Bhilwara district collector Manju Rajpal too agreed with Roy. She said legal action would be taken against those who did irregularities and they should be taught a lesson. Till now FIR has been lodged against 16 people and many people have also deposited the money.
But Union Panchayati Raj minister Dr CP Joshi is in favour of giving Sarpanchs a chance to reform. He said that Sarpanchs did not get training for accounting in NREGS and they were unaware about its seriousness and so it would be unfair to punish them. Along with Dr Joshi states that the state government at its Panchayat Act should made amendment and should take action under section 38 to declare Sarpanchs as ineligible.
State Panchayati Raj and Rural Development Minister Bharat Singh and forest and environment minister Ramlal Jat along too supported the Sarpanchs. They said taking police action against Sarpanchs was not the solution, as this would spoil the atmosphere in the state. Both ministers were not in favour of those who indulged in corrupt practices but said there was a difference in talking about and actually ending corruption.
Singh and Jat held the collectors responsible for corruption in MGNREGS found through social auditing. They said collectors as per the act have to inspect NREGS works for ten days, but they do not go for inspection even for a day or two, otherwise there would have been no corruption.
Bhilwara Zila Pramukh Kanhiyalal Dhakar said government officers and employees who had indulged in corruption should be punished. But those Sarpanchs who are illiterate and untrained should be given a chance to rectify their mistake as they are not matured enough for NREGS.