NREGS: IB man,govt staff among card holders in Bihar

Less than 50% cards genuine; govt acknowledges irregularities but fails to identify culprits

Written by Santosh Singh | Patna | Published: July 2, 2012 12:36 am

Ramesh Singh,an Intelligence Bureau officer and resident of Sonepur under Chhapra,has an MNREGA job card bearing registration number 914. Singh had never applied for it,nor did he know about its issuance

Uday Kumar Dwivedi,employed in the Indian Navy,is a resident of Jaitiya village under Jahangirpur panchayat of Sonepur,Chhapra. He was also issued a job card (311). He,too,does not know about it and had no reason to apply for it

Uttamraj Devi,a resident of Shahpur (also under Jahangirpur panchayat),had retired as a bank manager. She was also issued an MNREGA job card (1379) without applying for it

In Jahangirpur panchayat of Sonepur block in Chhapra district,as many as 1,380 job cards have been issued under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA). But investigation by a local social activist showed that less than 50 per cent cards were genuine.

The list of beneficiaries include 27 government employees,several of them working with the Indian Railways. It also has serving or retired National Powergrid Corporation and Damodar Valley Corporation employees.

On February 28,2011,Samarjit Singh,a social worker in Sonepur,had filed an RTI application in the Sonepur block development office seeking last five years’ muster roll of Jahangirpur panchayat having a population of 6,500 people. The information furnished by the department said over Rs 35 lakh had been paid as wages against these 1,380 job cards in 2008-09,2009-10 and 2010-11. While the reply said 283 job card holders alone were paid Rs 12.42 lakh as wages,it did not give a break-up of the rest of the payment.

After having unearthed the irregularities,Singh literally went from pillar to post — from the Sonepur block development office to that of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Governor Devanand Konwar — in the last one and a half years to initiate action against those responsible for the large-scale irregularities,but to no avail.

After Singh had lodged a complaint with the Saran (Chhapra) divisional commissioner’s office on June 7,2011,the district administration instituted an inquiry. But though the two-member probe team set up by the district magistrate confirmed the irregularities detected by Singh,it did not identify the guilty.

In his report dated June 12,2012,the commissioner said: “It is established by the probe team that muster rolls have entered names of job applicants without their permission,wages were fraudulently withdrawn against fake job cards and a government work is duplicated at same place.”

The report added: “The probe team has recommended lodging of FIR against those responsible (for irregularities and fraud) but did not identify and determine persons responsible for this.”

Saran Commissioner C Lal Sota told The Indian Express: “It is true that no individual has been held responsible… I cannot assure of action against the guilty whose names I have not been told. I will write back to DM to identify the culprit so that action can be taken against them.”

Seeking action,the social worker had written to the Bihar State Information Commission,the CM and the Governor on May 8,2012.

“The CM would ask a common man to show them corrupt officials. I have names with proofs,with the government also admitting to it. But it is all cover-up and things are back to square one. And I am talking about just one of the 4,600-odd panchayats in Bihar,” said Singh.

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