The Jharkhand Police has arrested seven persons for reportedly siphoning off Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme funds. The FIR,filed on Tuesday at the Lapung Police Station,accuses assistant post master Binod Jaiswal,SBIs accountant Anil Kumar Sinha,and five officials of the Block Development Office programme officer Samir Sagar,Rojgar Sevak Sanjay Oraon,Panchayat Sevak Mansa Kachhap,junior engineer Bindeshwar Singh and assistant engineer Rahul Kumar of conspiring to corner the funds. The beneficiaries in the name of whom the funds were withdrawn either did not exist or did not receive any money.
The police stumbled upon the case after they arrested a wanted criminal,Bhola Sahu,on November 11 and recovered from him several incriminating documents,including 50 passbooks of SBIs Lapung branch,150 passbooks of the Lapung post-office,250 job cards of workers and a dozen registers/muster rolls.
All of them were hand in glove. They conceived the NREGA schemes,prepared detailed project reports,maintained job cards and muster rolls and encashed the funds from the bank and post-office, said Ranchi SSP Praveen Singh.
Sahu told the police that Jaiswal,Sinha,Sagar,Oraon,Kachhap,Singh and Kumar were all involved in the scam. Two other accused,Apung BDO Moni Kumari and SBIs Lapung branch manger Ranu Kumar,are reported to be absconding.
Inspector B L Mishra,who is investigating the case,said the accused prepared more than 50 schemes envisaging either construction of roads or digging of ponds in villages falling under the Lapung block and withdrew funds under the MNREGA over one year.
Although the exact amount of withdrawals has not been estimated so far,none of the MNREGA schemes is visible in Lapung, said Mishra.
Incidentally,this is the second case of an NREGA scam in the state involving post-masters routing money through post-offices and banks.
The FIR in the current case was filed at the directive of Ranchi DC K K Soan. When I visited the villages,a number of workers complained that the post-masters extorted money to release wages from the post-offices. Their complaints looked prima facie genuine, Soan said.
As per the MNREGA,every scheme is supposed to be executed by the Block Development Office staff the Programme Officer,Rojgar Sevak,Panchayat Sevak,Junior Engineer and Assistant Engineer who inspect the job done by the workers. After their approval,the workers with accounts in banks or post-offices can withdraw their wages.