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MNREGS scam: 3 forest officers suspended

Yavatmal: Departmental inquiry ordered,FIR lodged

Written by Vivek Deshpande | Nagpur |
Updated: March 14, 2014 12:43:43 pm

Amravati Divisional Commissioner D H Bansod has suspended three forest department officers and ordered a departmental inquiry against them in the multi-crore MNREGS scam unearthed in the Zari-Jamni tahsil of Yavatmal district in 2011-12.

The Indian Express had reported the scam involving projects worth over Rs 36 crore and actual payments of over Rs 10 crore in its March 29 issue.

Deputy Commissioner (EGS),Amravati,K H Kamune said: “The Yavatmal collector has also lodged an FIR with the Yavatmal police as directed by us.”

The three are range forest officers V H Malghane,Artun Mhetre and A A Sheikh. Yavatmal Collector Ashvin Mudgal had inquired into the matter and confirmed a lot of irregularities and violations of MNREGS stipulations in the forest-related work undertaken in the most backward tribal tahsil of the district.

It was found that the forest officials had colluded with the then tahsildar D H Utkande and some contractors to carry out work using machines and fudging labourer musters.

It was also found that the labourers’ job cards were taken away and they were given paltry sums for agreeing to not work on the sites of earthen dams,nullah repairs and other projects. Gram sabha or panchayats were also bypassed in the process,the inquiry had found.

Payments worth over Rs 10 crore had been made when the scam came to light. The remaining payment was stopped by the collector.

A local forum,MNREGS Workers’ Action Committee,formed under the aegis of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti led by farmer leader Kishor Tiwari had,however,demanded release of payments saying the collector’s order to stop payments was “arbitrary,illegal and untenable”. Aided by Tiwari’s lawyer brother Vinod,who has since joined the BJP,they had moved the appellate authority,the divisional

commissioner of Amravati,against it. But Bansod had rejected the plea.

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