Probe yet to be completed in multi-crore MGNREGA scam

Two months on, the government is yet to complete the probe into the multi-crore MGNREGA job card scam that was exposed in this newspaper.

The inquiry team in its preliminary report has already confirmed the brazen irregularities in issuance of job cards.

It had also established the involvement of Block Development Officer (BDO) Khovripora, Panchayat Secretary Aakhura, and Gram Rozgar Sahayak Akhura.

All three officials have already been attached with the Directorate Rural Development Department (RDD) till submission of the final report.

Earlier, on May 14, taking cognizance of a report published in Greater Kashmir, commissioner/ secretary RDD Sheetal Nanda had constituted the high level team headed by her Additional Secretary Sudharshan Kumar to conduct the inquiry.

Acting swiftly the team which also comprised Director RDD (Kashmir), Qazi Sarwar and deputy director planning Muhamad Ashraf had seized records from the office of Block Development Office (BDO) Khovripora and also visited various houses to check the veracity of job cards issued in their favor.

However, since then the inquiry team has sat over the probe.

“It is nearly two months since the preliminary report was submitted, but there has been no further headway into the inquiry,” said an official.

He said the RDDs casual approach towards this fraud will tell upon their credibility.

However, commissioner secretary RDD cited the department’s engagements with major programs as the reason for the delay in inquiry.

“Our inquiry team could not visit the block in question again after the submission of the preliminary report as they were busy with Back to Village program” she said.

“As soon as the team visits there, they will start preparing the final report and submit it accordingly for further action.”

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 numbers.