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Rs 850-cr scam in job plan

lucknow Updated: Feb 03, 2010 01:18 IST
Umesh Raghuvanshi
Umesh Raghuvanshi
Hindustan Times
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I solicit your personal intervention in the matter to ensure that para-wise comments on the reports of Sanjay Dixit (member of Central Employment Guarantee Council who’s come out with a scathing report on the implementation of NREGA in Uttar Pradesh) and pending complaints are attended on priority basis.

— Rita Sharma, union secretary (now retired), rural development, in a letter to Atul Kumar Gupta, chief secretary, Uttar Pradesh, on January 13.

You are aware that under Section 27 (2) of the NREG Act there are serious consequences to reports of prima facie misuse of funds.

— Amita Sharma, joint secretary, union ministry of rural development, in a letter to Srikrishna, principal secretary, rural development department, UP, on November 30.

A one-man fact-finding committee has found serious irregularities in the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) in UP.

An estimated Rs 850 crore has either been siphoned or misused by state officials.

“There are serious irregularities in the implementation of the scheme in 34 of 71 districts in the state,” Central Employment Guarantee Council member Sanjay Dixit, who filed the report, said.

“On an average, every district uses Rs 100 crore under the scheme. Out of this about Rs 25 crore is being misused,” said Dixit. “The Centre has already issued warnings to the state government to block funds to two erring districts.”

In many districts, officials used JCB machines (trucks used for construction work) to carry out work, instead of employing card-holders who had been guaranteed jobs under the scheme; in some districts, officials bought goods such as toys, tricycles and tents using NREGA funds, the report says.

In Mahoba district, only 10 per cent of saplings, required to be planted by NREGA card-holders, were planted in the Ukhara village panchayat, the report says.

As the UPA government celebrated the fourth year of the NREGA on Tuesday — many political observes believe the flagship scheme paid Congress political dividends in last year’s Lok Sabha polls — the scheme has hardly taken-off in UP.

UP’s Commissioner for rural development, Sanjeev Kumar, said his department had urged the state to take action against the chief development officer (CDO) of Mahoba district. “We seek an explanation from the CDO of the district wherever we get reports of irregularities,” said Kumar.

Srikrishna, principal secretary, rural development, UP, said the state government had sent its reply to the Centre on irregularities in Mahoba.

Dixit visited several UP districts last year, before submitting the report to Union Minister for Rural Development C.P. Joshi on October 1. But the state has neither reacted nor responded to Dixit’s report.

A piqued Centre has asked UP Chief Secretary Atul Kumar Gupta to intervene.