Rural Development Department of ‘irregularities’
Inquiries Galore To Probe Frauds In Works, Centrally-Sponsored Schemes;
Srinagar, Aug 17: Rural Development Department in Jammu and Kashmir seems to have become a hub of irregularities, with inquiries against officials just piling up with each passing day.
Official documents with Greater Kashmir reveal that in the past two years, over a dozen inquiries have been instituted against the alleged irregularities by RDD officials in different parts of J&K. The fate of many probes and departmental inquiries, however, is uncertain, with insiders alleging that the department mostly goes easy against the accused officials and doesn’t move beyond instituting an inquiry.
In April this year, an inquiry has been instituted into the alleged withdrawal of Indra Awaas Yojna (IAY) funds against fake beneficiaries in Rajouri. The IWY is a major flagship program of the Central Rural Development Ministry to construct houses for BPL population in villages. Under the scheme, financial assistance worth Rs. 45,000/- in plain areas and Rs. 48,500/- in difficult areas is provided for construction of houses. The inquiry officer, Muhammad Hussain Bhatti, Additional District Development Commissioner Rajouri had been asked to submit the report within 10 days. However, the inquiry is reportedly on.
On July 20, Dr AG Sofi, additional secretary at the Rural Development Department, was asked to inquire the alleged bungling in the execution of link road from Channi Jasu Panchayat Sadoh in district Sambha of Jammu region. The officer had been asked to submit his report within 20 days. But it is yet to come.
“I am going to Sambha next week to make an on spot assessment of the road and inquire the allegations,” Dr Sofi told Greater Kashmir when asked about the status of the inquiry.
In July this year, the RDD accorded sanction to appointment of an officer to inquire accusations of resorting to corrupt practices by Muhammad Maqbool Dar, an orderly in the Block Development Office at Shopian when he was posted in the Board of Professional Entrance Examination. The inquiry is on.
On April 26, Muhammad Hussain Bhatti was again appointed as an inquiry officer to probe the allegations regarding financial irregularities in Block Mandi, Mendhar. The result of the inquiry is unknown so far, though it is alleged that the allegation was of serious nature. Vide Order No. 95-RD of 2011 Dated 21-04-2011, Dr Sofi was again asked to hold a departmental inquiry into the alleged involvement of five officers in wrongful execution of work named “construction of road from Kurhama to Hardubora” under RLEGP during 1985-86. The inquiry officer had been asked to submit report within two weeks. But he says he is at it. “I have sought the details and I am at it,” he said. The accused officials include Ghulam Qadir Rather, then Accountant BDO office Tangmarg, now posted in J&K Economic Reconstruction Agency as Accounts Officer; Noor Muhammad Khan, then Junior Engineer and now I/C Xen REW Pulwama; Abdul Majeed Wani, then BDO Tangmarg and now Additional Commissioner Kashmir and Farooq Ahmad Shagoo, Draftsman Baramulla, now in the office of XEN REW Kupwara.
Vide Order No. 90-RD of 2011 Dated 18-04-2011, the Additional District Development Commissioner Doda has been asked to inquire into the allegations leveled against Project Officer Wage Employment Kistwar regarding backdoor appointments under the flagship Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). Apart from this issue, it has been often alleged that fake job cards have been provided to people under the Act.
In December 2010, Deputy Commissioner Budgam, Muhammad Rafi, ordered probe into the alleged irregularities in the implementation of National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) in Chadoora and other Rural Development blocks of Budgam district.
The irregularities, which were brought to fore by a group of RTI activists, included non issuance of job cards, delay in payments, not making pro active disclosures of works executed.
Just few days back, on August 8, the Additional Deputy Commissioner Poonch has been appointed as an inquiry officer into the alleged mishandling of funds during the construction of Primary School building at Khatana Maalahan by the then BDO Surankote and presented posted as Project Officer Self Employment Jammu.
“The inquiry officer shall submit report/findings to the administrative department within one month,” reads the order No. 163-RD of 2011.
In April this year, Dr Sofi has again been appointed as inquiry officer into the alleged irregularities in various blocks of Islamabad (Anantnag) district under Swarn Jayanti Gram Sewa Yojna (SGSY) scheme in respect of giving assistance to BPL families for establishing sheep unites. The inquiry is on and a final report is likely to be submitted.
Besides, a number of other inquiries into different cases are on. “These cases of irregularities, which are pouring in from grassroots level, can’t be taken lightly. The department is no doubt ordering probes, but it is not going beyond that and ensuring that the guilty officers are punished,” said a source in the Rural Development Department. “The centrally sponsored schemes are aimed at benefiting ordinary and poor people at grassroots level. But if there are financial irregularities taking place in these schemes, the department cannot act as mute spectator. The inquiries should be concluded in a time-bound manner with a follow-up action so that the system gets free of corrupt officials on ground. There is unfortunately a poor monitoring mechanism for works and schemes at the ground. This leads to lack of accountability and corruption.”
RDD SECRETARY SPEAKS
The secretary, Rural Development Department, Yedullah admitted that some delays take place in finalizing inquires. “What happens is that an inquiry officer belongs to KAS/IAS cadre which is under the control of General Administration Department. The GAD shifts them often which delay the final inquiries. Then we have to issue fresh orders of inquiries and entrust them to new officers,” he told Greater Kashmir.
In one case, Yedullah said the RDD appointed an inquiry officer who was then transferred. “But when we appointed a new inquiry officer, the High Court intervened and said the original one should inquire. The original one ultimately retired from service. So some delays do take place due to technical reasons,” he said.
But he claimed that whenever complaints pour in, they are acted upon. “I disagree that there is a poor monitoring mechanism for works and centrally sponsored schemes. We have appointed State-Quality Monitors comprising seven retired officers. They are monitoring different works and schemes and giving us regular feedback. We do act on the feedback,” he said.
Yedullah, who has issued the inquiry orders immediately after the complaints poured in, said the Panchayat Raj institutions would be the best monitoring mechanism in place in near future. “We are at it. The best monitoring shall be done by the Panchayat Raj institutions,” he said.
Lastupdate on : Wed, 17 Aug 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 17 Aug 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 18 Aug 2011 00:00:00 IST
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