Even as a special panel set up to look into alleged misappropriation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) funds in Ambegaon prepares to conduct investigations,scores of similar complaints from other villages in the area are pouring in.
The Indian Express had on March 29 reported that the NREGS muster roll in Tirpad village in Ambegaon block had shown a dead woman,Chandrabhaga Dharma Gavari,as a beneficiary and that she has been paid for work done (Dead woman works,gets paid?).
The death certificate issued by Tirpad gram panchayat shows she died on April 3 last year. She was,however,marked present on the NREGS muster roll and shown as having been paid Rs 3,625. Gavaris son and other villagers confirmed she is dead. She was also reportedly found eligible for unemployment benefit,months after her death.
Deputy commissioner,NREGS,Pradip Patil told this newspaper that a committee has been formed to look into the complaint. The panel is headed by deputy collector NREGS,and has on board revenue officials of the area. The panel would visit villages where there are complaints, he said.
Other than checking documents,the panel would read the muster roll aloud (Chawdi Vacchan), and ascertain the identity of people who have been paid. People from four other departments would be there and we hope to complete the work in eight days, he said.
Complaints of fraudulent muster roll entries are coming in from other villages of the block like Nhaved,Rajpur,Falode,Savarli,Rajpur,Phulwadi and Jambhori,dominated by tribal population.
Interestingly,in all these villages,people claimed that the number of workers on the roll are far more than the actual number. There were allegedly people who have never stayed in the village also appearing on the muster roll.
Chintamani Mohduke of Nhaved said he had never worked for NREGS but his name appears on the muster roll. Someone has collected payment misusing my name, he said. Similar complaints have came from other villages,especially Falode and Rajpur. Budhaji Damse of Ekjut Sanghatana,a tribal and Dalit rights body,said many workers have not been paid for work done in the last 10 months. This needs a thorough investigation, he said.