Ombudsman orders recovery of misused funds

In connection with the alleged misappropriation of funds and illegality under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) in Kinya gram panchayat of Mangalore taluk, the Ombudsman has conducted a detailed inquiry into the incident and ordered for the recovery of Rs46,980 from PDO, Assistant Agriculture officer and Assistant engineer. 

If they fail to deposit the funds within 30 days from the date of order, then money will have to be recovered with 12 per cent interest. Villagers from Kinya had complained to the ZP CEO that the services of a contractor was used while taking up the work on retaining walls, on December 12, 2013.  

The complainants had alleged that contractor was used and those who did not possess employment card have worked while constructing three retaining walls. 

“In the name of constructing retaining wall around farm land, walls have been constructed beside houses,” said the complaint. During the inquiry, it was found that the work on retaining walls at Kanakamugeru and Kuttipare were constructed beside three houses. The files related to the work has details on estimate, technical and administrative approval and did not maintain the documents related to the work. 

The attendance of the labourers have not been maintained. There were no photographs of the beginning of the work, ongoing work and the completion of the work in the file. The file had only mentioned on the payment of wages, said the inquiry report. In the work on a drain taken up by the Panchayat Raj engineering division, there were no documents pertaining to the work. 

Skilled and non skilled labourers services were utilised for the construction of the drain. On a whole, there was violation of rules under the MGNREGA while implementing the development works, said Ombudsman Sheena Shetty to Deccan Herald. 

During the inquiry, it was found that action plan was prepared for the construction of a drain at an estimated cost of Rs 50,000. However, as the Panchayat Raj engineering sub division Mangalore felt that there was no need for the construction of a drain, the work on footroad was taken up, wherein laterite stones were laid on the road. The details of the work was not mentioned in the log book. However, Nominal Muster Roll (NMR) was taken for the construction of a drain and a wage of Rs 8,700 was paid. 

Under MGNREGA, retaining wall can not be constructed for individual benefit. It can be constructed to check flood water or intrusion of water into fields. 

However, here retaining walls have been constructed for three houses. Under individual benefiaries, land work related to irrigation, percolation ponds, horticulture, afforestation, construction of bunds, land development work only can be taken up, said the Ombudsman. 

The Ombudsman has ordered to bear the cost of three works on a retaining wall and a foot road from the available funds of the Watershed department, Panchayat Raj Engineering division and gram panchayat. 

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