MADURAI:As more details are tumbling out of the employment guarantee scheme scandal that Express reported, sources said that the swindling was orchestrated so blatantly that one of the contract staff who was part of the ring received his share in his salary account itself.
According to a senior official in the Social Audit Society of Tamil Nadu (SASTA), the independent body functioning under the rural development and Panchayat Raj department of the State government, their audit has found that one of the employee, Vijay, was included as a beneficiary of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGS) scheme. He received as much as Rs 7 lakh in his bank account, which incidentally is also his salary account.
Express had reported how the register at Erumarpatti and Mannur in Madurai was inflated to double the number of workers under the scheme by some contract staff there, who allegedly included the names of their family members and friends to siphon off at least Rs 30 lakh this financial year.
The source added that MNREGS officials from Chennai had sent an e-mail to the Block Development Officer (BDO) of Usilampatti five months ago, warning that there were irregularities done on the information uploaded on the computer server of MGNREGS scheme. However, the BDO did not verify it even after receiving the mail.
When SASTA began audit and started asking questions, the official reportedly told them that he lacked knowledge in operating the computer. But the auditors are unwilling to accept the reasoning, as the BDO is the official responsible for the scheme in the taluk.
If Vijay received the money in his own account, another employee, Ambika Devi collected Rs 10 lakh through her family member’s account. Yet another staff, Karthick, an MCA graduate whom the auditors are suspecting to be the kingpin of the scandal, received Rs 7 lakh, said sources. “We have handed over the details to District Crime Branch, who filed the case against them,” said the official.
As Express had reported, the fraud happened at the taluk level, where the number of persons employed was increased from 672 to 1,200 by the contract staff. This allegedly led to a loss of Rs 30 lakhs in this financial year.
The BDOs maintain the details of those employed under the scheme; once these details are uploaded to the MGNREGS system server, the Union government releases wages to the bank accounts of the beneficiaries.