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Hold CBI probe into loot of funds under MGNREGA, SBM in state: Harsh
5/22/2019 10:11:30 PM
Early Times Report
Jammu, May 22: Alleging large scale irregularities, massive bungling and misappropriation of funds in the implementation of MGNREGA scheme in the state, Harsh Dev Singh JKNPP Chairman and Former Minister today petitioned the Governor seeking a high level probe into all expenditures under the scheme by the J&K RDD during the past 3 years. He regretted that in the absence of ombudsman or any other monitoring authority, the huge funding under MGNREGA and IHHL schemes has been looted and plundered with none to take cognizance of the frauds in RDD making headlines in the media every other day. He said that not only the plunder of funds but the RDD officers often declined to provide replies under RTI which had invited the wrath of SIC as well with the latter admonishing the department for circumventing the transparency law. Having clandestinely floundered the principles of accountability and transparency, Singh called for a high level probe into the multi crore scam in the RDD preferably through CBI. He was addressing a press conference in Jammu today.
Pointing towards huge pendency of wages and other work done claims of workers and MGNREGA labourers, and found by him during his recent tours of various villages, Singh stated that the rural poor had been deprived of legitimate benefits envisaged for them under the scheme. He said that it was highly unfortunate that the claims of these poor indigent labouers remained unpaid for the last 2 to 3 years and urged upon the Governor and Advisor to ensure clearance of the liabilities created by reckless officers of the Deptt. Referring to the vigilance raids in the houses and office premises of some of the officers in the recent past exposing massive scam to the tune of crores in the RDD under MGNREGA scheme, Mr. Harsh Dev Singh said that it was only a tip of the ice berg and said that identical exercise needs to be conducted in all other districts of the state particularly Udhampur, Kishtwar, Doda, Ramban, Kathua, Samba in view of hundreds of crores being bungled by unscrupulous elements in collusion with officers and politicians. He regretted that no notice was being taken of the brewing resentment amongst the rural masses against non clearance of MGNREGA liabilities for the last few years besides non-payment of claims under "Open Defecation Free" (ODF) scheme of Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) wherein payments in respect of construction of individual household latrines by BPL families had been kept on hold for years despite release of all funds by GOI.
Harsh Dev Singh said that in the absence of ombudsmen in various Districts, the funds under the MGNREGA scheme were being siphoned off by corrupt officials in connivance with certain vested interests. He also stated that the flagrant violation of GOI stipulated norms in identification and execution of works, large scale variations in labour-material ratio, extremely poor quality works, fictitious bills, inflated billing for materials used, withdrawal of payments for non-existent works, diversion of funds, non provision of employment to job card holders etc were the general complaints of the public in the rural areas visited by him. He regretted that dozens of complaints filed by him with helmsmen regarding the blatant violations and other irregularities in MGNREGA in District Udhampur particularly Ramnagar constituency with documentary evidence and on the basis of feedback received from the ground, had failed to elicit any response from concerned quarters. "GOI had issued standing instructions to all state governments in 2009 for immediate creation of the institution of ombudsmen at District level in their respective states so as to check pilferage of rural development and employment guarantee funds provided to the states under the scheme. While the state of J&K has availed thousands of crores under the said national flagship scheme, it has failed to initiate any action whatsoever with regard to appointment of ombudsmen at various levels in the state", Harsh regretted.
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