Ombudsman unearths misuse of funds in MGNREGS

Works taken up in Andinje GP do not come under purview of scheme

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) Ombudsman Sheena Shetty has unearthed misappropriation of funds to the tune of Rs 2,81,104, in the work taken up at Andinje Gram Panchayat in Belthangday taluk.

The ombudsman has ordered for recovery of Rs 2,68,979 which were found misappropriated while implementing MGNREGS, as the defaulters had already repaid a sum of Rs 12,125.

The Ombudsman in his order dated June 26, has directed the defaulters to repay the misappropriated amount within 15 days. It was Rajesh Andinje, a resident of Andinje, and other labourers who had complained to the Ombudsman on the misappropriation of funds during the work undertaken in 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12, under MGNREGS in the Gram panchayat limits.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, one of the complainants said that the authorities were unnecessarily delaying the payment of the wages. As per the rules, the wages should be paid within 15 days, but in the Gram Panchayat, it was not paid even after six months.

Many a time, the implementing authorities were not engaged in providing job to the small farmers and actual beneficiaries.

“The rules of the MGNREGS were violated in almost all the works taken up in the gram panchayat limits,” he said.

“At the same time, no measures were taken to develop land belonging to small farmers and the poor labourers under the scheme,” he added.

The Ombudsman said that during the probe, it was revealed that there was total violation of the scheme in 82 works taken up under the scheme. “We had asked the Horticulture department Assistant Director, who is also the technical assistant under the scheme to revalue the total work taken up under the Scheme and found that there was misappropriation of funds.

Of the 82 works taken up, 46 works were related to cleaning the roots of arecanut and coconut trees. In reality, the work on cleaning the root and filling the soil is not allowed under MGNREGS, as per the government order dated October 7, 2009. Under MGNREGS, one can take up the work on asset creation by planting saplings in one’s land and not maintaining the coconut and arecanut plantations.”

The Ombudsman also noticed that 78 works taken up were not certified by the technical officer before making the payment. Based on the report of the Udyoga Mithra, payments were made for the work taken up. Even the measurement book were not maintained well by the authorities.

At many places, there was correction in the measurement book using whitener and even the payment and the estimate was not tallying. The wages for the Udyoga Mitra and computer operator was not paid as per the rules. The Panchayat Development Officer, Udyoga Mithra, and other officials concerned have reportedly confessed  their mistake, during the probe.

A sum of Rs 11,276 was not paid for the eight works taken up during the period. The Ombudsman has directed to make the payment  of wages within 15 days, in his order.

Th Ombudsman has also ordered for the departmental inquiry against PDO, technical officer and other officials concerned, for violating the rules while implementing MGNREGS.

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