MNREGA embezzlement:Tainted officials given plum posts
Hindustan Times had exposed the scam involving around Rs 5 crore in the utilisation of MNREGA funds and rural development grants eight months ago.punjab Updated: Aug 08, 2017 15:50 IST
The main accused in a case of embezzlement of funds under the Mahatama Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) in Patiala has been given a posting two ranks higher than his current one. Block development and panchayat officer (BDPO) Dinesh Kumar Vashishat is now deputy director to oversee centrally sponsored schemes.
It is learnt that he was even monitoring MNREGA, but that part has since been taken away from him.
Not only Vashishat, the other accused BDPO, Malwinder Singh, has been posted as secretary of zila parishad at Rupnagar.
Hindustan Times had exposed the scam involving around Rs 5 crore in the utilisation of MNREGA funds and rural development grants eight months ago. While the rural development department, in a letter, has listed it as a scam, the police, which had registered two FIRs after an eight-month-long probe, had even filed closure reports. But the local court, passing adverse remarks, rejected the cancellation in case of Malwinder Singh, while date of hearing for Vashishat is fixed for August 11.
Pertinently, after the HT expose, a committee headed by deputy controller, finance and accounts, rural development, got the two FIRs registered against the BDPOs — Vashishat was then at Samana, and Malwinder at Patran — on charges of cheating and corruption. Both Vashishat and Malwinder are still BDPOs. However, both are posted at such places where only a DDPO or deputy director can be posted.
“In a hierarchy. a BDPO is first promoted as DDPO and then deputy director. However, you can well imagine the clout of both officials that they got plum posts. As for Vashishat, even additional deputy commissioners (development) of entire Punjab are reporting to him for centrally sponsored schemes. Secondly, a person who is accused of embezzlement in a centrally sponsored scheme (MNREGA) was asked to monitor the same,” commented an official requesting anonymity.
However, sources said that after taking over as secretary for rural development, Anurag Verma took away the charge of MNREGA from Vashishat, though he is monitoring other schemes.
Sources said that despite indictment by the department, the then rural development minister Sikander Singh Maluka took a lenient view and stopped only one increment of the officers as punishment. “Is stopping one increment of Rs 1,000 is enough? There needs to be a vigilance probe,” said an IAS officer who dealt with the files.
Pertinently, a local court has already rejected the police’s cancellation report, upon which minister based his judgment to give the BDPOs only minor punishment.
Despite several attempts, secretary Anurag Verma could not be contacted for comment. Sources said he has forward a file to the minister to take fresh note of the scam.
It must be underlined that police investigation officer, SP GS Bedi, allegedly didn’t visit the villages where the scam had taken place and did not ascertain the MNREGA records before filing a report.