The Jammu and Kashmir’s MGNREGA online website where all the information regarding the center sponsored scheme is uploaded and managed has become inaccessible since the day government ordered an inquiry into the job card scam in Anantnag district following an expose by this newspaper.
Taking cognizance of a report published in Greater Kashmir on May 14, Commissioner/Secretary Rural Development Department (RDD) Sheetal Nanda constituted a high-level team headed by her Additional Secretary Sudharshan Kumar to conduct the inquiry.
Acting swiftly the team which also comprises Director RDD (Kashmir) Qazi Sarwar and Deputy Director Planning Muhammad Ashraf seized records from the office of Block Development Office (BDO) Khovripora block and also visited various houses to check the veracity of job cards issued in their favor.
A preliminary report was submitted which confirmed the brazen irregularities in issuance of job cards.
“However, ironically the day the inquiry team was constituted, the J&Ks website for MGRREGA suddenly became inaccessible to the internet users,” an official said.
This correspondent has also been trying to access the website for past four days but every time it reads ‘Error 503: The service is unavailable’.
But once we click on the MGNRGA website of the other states – UP, Punjab, Bihar, Jharkhand etc, they can be easily accessed with all the information on display.
“To maintain transparency the entire process of MGNREGA is managed online. From job details to the number of working days sought by the laborer to the actual number of working days provided to the total wages for the number of working days done to total wages deposited; all are uploaded on the website,” said an official.
He said the data on the site is first uploaded by district management information system and then it is consolidated by state management information system.
“Making information unavailable to the public seems a ploy to save the blue-eyed officials involved in the multi-crore job scam. It seems that an attempt is on to tamper with the information and make all the documents that expose the fraud look irrelevant,” an official said.
Commissioner/ Secretary, RDD Sheetal Nanda, however, assured of looking into the issue.
“There might be some technical glitch, nothing more than that,” she said.
Talking about the preliminary inquiry report; Nanda said it has pointed out certain irregularities in the issuance of job cards. “But the team would be visiting the block in question again to ascertain more details and then only submit the detailed report,” she said.
As reported by this newspaper the wages drawn “fraudulently” are deposited directly into the bank accounts of middlemen and contractors, chosen by the RDD officials in Block Development Office.
The documents have revealed that hundreds of fake and duplicate job cards for workers under MGNREGA have been issued by RDD, pointing to a large scale corruption in the central government scheme, implemented in J&K in 2008.
The flagship program guarantees 100 days of employment to people from rural areas, without a government job. The job card is provided to a family head holding a ration card.
However, even government employees, deceased people, minors have been shown paid while a single person holds multiple job cards so do his family members under different registration number