MP wakes up to rural job plan corruption
After an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) couple were found to have wealth of over Rs 300 crore, two more IAS officers in Madhya Pradesh are facing the heat for alleged corruption in Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).
The two officers were posted in district Sidhi in north-eastern part of Madhya Pradesh during 2008 when the alleged corruption took place.
The two had allegedly facilitated disbursement of money to non-existent Self Help Groups and payment for work on days, which did not exist such as June 31. There were also allegations of fabrication of muster rolls and paying less than mandated under the MGNREGA law to those enrolled in the scheme.
In addition, huge amount was spent on planting Jatrofa without taking approval of the competent authority, which was declared as failure.
"These are some of the findings of an inquiry done by district prosecution officer in 2008," said Ajay Dubey, RTI national award winner for 2009, and general secretary of NGO Prayatna, which exposed the corruption using the Right To Information (RTI) law.
Finally, the state government has woken up to the corruption in the world's biggest job guarantee scheme in January 2011. The state's Rural Development department has issued a chargesheet against the two officials, in-charge of the scheme in the district in 2008, two years after the state General Administration Department (GAD) asked it to initiate action.
The chargesheet has been sent to the GAD department for serving the officials, who are now serving as district collectors. As per the RTI information, the department has also asked recovery of about Rs 8 crore, which was allegedly siphoned off during the period.
Corruption in MGNREGA is not new. But for the first time explanation is being sought from IAS officers for facilitating the corruption. Dubey said corruption in the scheme has been exposed through RTI in as many as seven districts. "The corruption is over Rs 100 crore," he said. BK Sinha, secretary Rural Development Ministry has also asked officials of the ministry to conduct an inquiry into the allegations and submit a report.