A sarpanch of a village and her family members changed their caste certificates from general to the reserve category for registering their names with the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGA), revealed an RTI information. Interestingly, the son of the sarpanch Paramjeet Kaur, hired a helicopter for his wedding at Chapparchiri village in 2012 and had spent around Rs 7 lakh to pay the fare.
Balwinder Singh, a resident of Manakpur Kallar village and former panchayat member said that he sought an information under the RTI Act after he came to know that Kaur’s family members who belong to general category have their names registered for the MNREGA under the scheduled tribe category. He added that the names of Paramjeet, her husband Karam Singh and her son Kamaljeet Singh’s names were registered in the list of MNREGA beneficiaries.
According to the RTI information, a copy of which is with Chandigarh Newsline, their names were registered against the ‘Others’ category which means that they must belong to the reserve categories. “The entire village knows that they belong to the general category, Karam Singh owns around 20 acres of land in the village, and they are also taking the financial benefits. Though MNREGA’s earnings are also meager, (Rs 233 per day), but strangely, a family which owns land and can afford a lavish marriage party, have their names registered for MNREGA,” Balwinder said. Balwinder further added that he got the information on August 24 and found that the names of all the three were registered under the scheme since 2014, the year when Paramjeet assumed the charge of sarpanch.
Paramjeet, however, could not be contacted. When her husband Karam Singh was asked about this, he said that they belong to Jatt Sikh family and that it might be a clerical mistake. Asked about the financial benefits his family received, Karam Singh said that he does not wish to comment on the matter as an inquiry is pending and he will only speak to the concerned officers. Deputy Commissioner (DC) Gurpreet Kaur Sapra who also heads the MNREGA scheme in the district said that it is strange that Paramjeet’s family is registered with MNREGA as they do not qualify for it. She added that she would ask the concerned Block Development and Panchayat Officer to give a detailed report on it.
Alleging that it is a huge fraud, Balwinder said competent authorities should probe the matter as Paramjeet and her family are doing injustice to the actual beneficiaries of the scheme. He said that he had also lodged a complaint with the police and DSP (City 2) is inquiring the matter. When contacted, DSP Ramandeep Singh said that they are conducting an inquiry and it will take some time to verify all the facts.