MADURAI:Exposing a scam in the much-touted Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme, the Social Audit Society of Tamil Nadu, an independent body under the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj department of the State government, has unearthed financial irregularities in Madurai district, which official sources said could be just the tip of the iceberg.
Explaining the payment procedure under the MGNREGA, an official told Express that wages used to be distributed to workers by a panchayat-level committee headed by the local pancha-yat president. However, after complaints from beneficiaries, the procedure was tweaked to disburse funds directly to their accounts from this financial year.
The irregularities in the scheme were identified in Usilampatti block in Madurai district for financial year 2014-15, a senior official of the society told Express. The official said the fraud happened at the taluk level. As per procedure, Block Development Officers maintain the details of those employed under the scheme. Once the details are uploaded on the MGNREGA server, funds will be released by the Centre.
Usilampatti BDO Prakash had sent the hard copy with details about people employed at Erumarpatti and Mannur villages to the MGNREGA office in Chennai. The report showed that 672 families benefited from the scheme. However, when the details were uploaded on the MGNREGA’s server, the figure was inflated to show that 1,200 people were employed under the scheme. Based on this, the Centre released the amount to the accounts of the beneficiaries, leading to a loss of Rs 30 lakh. Following this, the Madurai district administration ordered an inquiry during which it was found that fake job cards were created by computer operators Vijay and Ambikadevi — both temporary employees. Official sources said the two allegedly included their relatives and friends in the beneficiaries list and swindled Rs 30 lakh.
A case was filed against the duo and 13 of their kin.
data on MGNREGA server inflated
An Usilampatti BDO report showed that 672 families benefited from the MGNREGA, though data uploaded in its system server had 1,200 beneficiaries. Based on this, the Centre released the amount leading to a loss of Rs 30 lakh.