Centre orders probe into IAY fund misuse

National Agency Asked To Submit Report By February 23

UMER MAQBOOL/ZAHID MAQBOOL

Srinagar, Feb 5: After blocking funds under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) in central Kashmir’s Budgam district, Union Ministry for Rural Development has now directed a national-level monitoring agency to inquire into the allegations of misappropriation of funds under Indira Awas Yojana (IAY) in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district. The development comes, coincidentally, at a time when the State Rural Development Minister has rued ‘non-recognition’ by the Centre over JK’s ‘impressive’ performance in rural development.
The Union Rural Development Ministry vide letter number Q-11018/23/ 2012 –NLM has directed a monitoring agency – Midstream Marketing & Research Pvt. Ltd- to look into the allegations of embezzlement of funds in the scheme aimed at poverty alleviation in rural areas.
“Your institute is deputed to visit Kulgam district in Jammu and Kashmir immediately to investigate the complaints and ascertain the facts with reference to the issues contained in the complaints and specific issues which need investigation,” reads the order dated January 28, 2013.
The Ministry has also directed the Deputy Commissioner Kulgam to provide necessary cooperation and logistic support to the agency for conducting the inquiry. The monitoring agency has been asked to submit its report by February 23, 2013. The Union Government usually deputes national level monitoring agencies to verify facts or for a preliminary inquiry in case of complaints of serious nature from people’s representatives, NGOs, etc. regarding misuse of funds, irregularities, etc.
Earlier, the Union Rural Development Ministry had withheld the release of funds under MGNREGS to Budgam district after detecting “large-scale irregularities” in implementation of the centrally-sponsored scheme. The inquiry, according to documents with Greater Kashmir, was then ordered by the Union Ministry on a complaint forwarded by National Advisory Council chairperson Sonia Gandhi. The complaint was forwarded to Sonia Gandhi by NAC member Aruna Roy.
The probe then conducted by the Centre for Logical, Research and Development Studies concluded that the allegations of use of machinery in works under MGNREGS and irregularities in distribution of IAY are true.
Following the report, the Centre had put the release of second installment of funds under MGNREGS on hold while seeking response from the State Government.
When contacted, State Rural Development Minister Ali Muhammad Sagar said they would provide assistance to the probe agency.
“We welcome the probe as our Government is committed to ensure transparency and accountability in developmental works undertaken in rural areas,” he said.
On being asked whether weak transparency mechanism in the state prompted people to approach Centre directly, Sagar said: We cannot stop anybody from lodging complaint into irregularities but there is strong mechanism in place at different levels to look into such complaints.”

Lastupdate on : Tue, 5 Feb 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 5 Feb 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 6 Feb 2013 00:00:00 IST




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