NREGS scam: Criminal case ordered against 9 forest officials

  • Hitender Rao, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Jan 28, 2015 10:45 IST

The Haryana government on Tuesday ordered registration of a criminal case against nine forest department officials about siphoning off almost Rs 5 crore meant for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employee Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) in Ambala district.

They are accused of fabricating records, feeding fake data to the management information system (MIS), and destroying muster rolls and vouchers. Since they have not made the record related to the NREGS work available, the scam may be bigger, says the vigilance bureau report.

The government has also decided to initiate departmental action against them under Rule 7 of the Haryana Civil Services (Punishment and Appeal) Rules besides ordering recovery of more than `16 lakh from them. The action is based on an inquiry by Haryana Vigilance Bureau more than two years ago. The-then director general of the bureau, Sharad Kumar, had recommended a criminal case against the nine officials under laws dealing with forgery, misconduct, cheating, corruption and other offences.

The bureau had also recommended that the state government might take “appropriate action” own level against three serving Indian Administrative Service officers (former Ambala deputy commissioners Mohammad Shayin and Sameer Pal Srow; and former Ambala additional DC Renu Phulia); besides retired IAS officer RP Bhardwaj ( also a former Ambala DC), former Ambala ADC Sumedha Kataria, and retired project officer Gian Prakash Kansal.

Accepting the recommendations, chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Tuesday ordered the registration of cases against the-then Ambala divisional forest officer (T) Jagmohan Sharma; range forest officers Gokul Sharma (Ambala), Rajesh Rana (Naraingarh), and Prashant Sharma, Vinod Kumar, Lakshman Das, and Deepak Ailawadi (Saha); deputy superintendent (T) in Ambala DFO office Chander Mohan; and Surender Kumar Nagar, who was assistant of the-then accounts officer in the Chief Conservator of Forest office at Panchkula.

However, the state government is yet to decide on “appropriate action” against the IAS and HCS (Haryana Civil Services) officers.

The bureau report suggests that three former Ambala DCs; two ADCs, and a project officer in the ADC’s office had disbursed `25 crore of the grant money to the-then divisional forest officer (T) Jagmohan Sharma without administrative and financial approval. Even though the MIS data was incomplete, job-card records were not made available online, and no monthly progress report was received, these senior officials kept disbursing the money.

“In spite of irregularities and misappropriation of funds pointed out by former Ambala ADCs Sanjeev Verma and Wazir Singh Goyat and subdivisional magistrate (SDM) Mukesh Ahuja, the-then DCs and ADCs kept disbursing the money intentionally in contravention of the scheme rules thus facilitating misappropriation of funds by DFO Jagmohan Sharma and his subordinates ,’’ the report reads.

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