Remember Shyam Benegal’s political satire ‘Well Done Abba’? A similar story of corruption in government schemes has played out at Bahirawad village in Madhya Pradesh’s Dewas district.
An RTI query has revealed that panchayat officials sanctioned Rs 95,000 for digging up a well on ‘farmland’ of a daily wager, Akbar Mohammed, in 2008-09 under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee (MNREG) scheme. In reality, the construction only remained on papers.
Expressing its displeasure, the Union Ministry of Rural Development has directed the state’s Principal Secretary of rural development department to investigate the matter and submit a detailed report within a month. HT has a copy of the letter dated June 15.
Akbar claimed he was unaware that gram panchayat members of Bahirawad village in Kannod tehsil used his job card details to apply for construction of a well under the MNREGS.
Though Akbar did not own a piece of land in Bahirawad village yet, on papers, the officials managed to make him an owner of a plot and built a ‘well’ on the plot.
“I didn’t know about the matter until recently,” Akbar said, adding that he came to know about the fraud only during the recent panchayat elections. Later, he approached social activist Chanchal Gupta who filed an RTI petition seeking details of MNREGS works taken up in Bahirawad.
When contacted, district panchayat chief executive officer Brijesh Patel directed the reporter to a nodal officer for NREGA matters who said he was unaware about any such complaint.
“The panchayat officials had indulged in many such malpractices, which can only be revealed after physical inspection of works that they have cited on papers,” Gupta said, adding that there were many daily wagers against whose names similar frauds were committed by the officials.
Some joined hands with the officials to get their cut, others were unaware and a few did not dare to raise questions, the activist claimed.