4 years on, probe into multi-crore MGNREGS scam still under way

4 years on, probe into multi-crore MGNREGS scam still under way

Enquiry into the multi-crore irregularities and misappropriation of funds in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarnatee Scheme (MGNREGS) is not completed even four years after it was entrusted to Lokayukta.

The officials in the Lokayukta said that the state government had asked for an enquiry into the implementation of the scheme in all the districts after Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) report found irregularities in eight districts. Since the works and bills were generated at gram panchayat level, it is a humongous task, say officials.

CAG report in 2013 had highlighted large-scale irregularities during 2008-2012 in eight districts; Raichur, Chamarajanagar, Vijayapura, Chikkaballapura Hassan, Gadag, Shivamogga and Ballari. One of the major findings of the CAG report was regarding mismanagement of the Management Information System (MIS).

There are no names of the suppliers of materials worth Rs 1,717.17 crore. The MIS has entered these names as just locals. In eight districts audited by the CAG, a total of 3.32 lakh bills were cleared for Rs 446.45 crore without any name of the provider. This apart, the report stated that between 2008 and 2012 3.49 lakh job cards and 8.23 lakh individual names were deleted for wrong entries. However, all these job cards and individuals were credited money. Besides, the MIS has entered 63.89 lakh individual names set to be deleted and reasons for the same is entered as `Others'. Of these, 95% of individuals were paid Rs 617.74 crore between 2008 and 2012.

The CAG report had stated that in all the 30 districts Rs 1717.17 crore was cleared towards 12.41 lakh bills for materials provided by locals. The state government asked the Lokayukta to enquire into the irregularities in the entire state. To start with, the enquiry is being done in 157 gram panchayats in eight districts audited by the CAG. The Lokayukta has entrusted the enquiry with the Lokayukta police. Since the setting up of the Anti Corruption Bureau, Lokayukta police is short-staffed. Moreover, the enquiry will not be a criminal investigation. It will take another two years,'' a senior official said.

According to Lokayukta sources, gram panchayats have executed 96% of the works under the scheme. The state government, in its order dated September 9, 2014, has sought a report on number of fake bills created in all the 30 districts, reasons for the decrease in number of beneficiaries and reasons for failing to audit the scheme.

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