BENGALURU: In the past few months, payment released from the head office as wages for beneficiaries under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has not reached them. Irked by this, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RPDR) commissioner M Kanagavalli sent a warning letter to Zilla Panchayat officials, asking them to give details of the unaccounted Rs 19 crore that was released for the purpose in 2017-18.
Under MGNREGA, in 2006, the state government along with the Union government started to ensure livelihood and food security by providing unskilled work to people in rural areas. The intention was to stop people migrating to urban areas from the villages. At present, more than 3.5 lakh people are employed. According to MGNREGA guidelines, they have to be employed for 100 working days in a year.
In 2012, when Jagadish Shettar was Chief Minister, he had pointed out a big scam in MGNREGA, where the amount exceeded Rs 600 crore, and about 10 lakh bogus job cards were detected. RDPR officials say that this time the number could be more, and can be arrived at only after all inquiries are completed.
Now, it is proved again that not all is well with work undertaken in this tenure. The RDPR commissioner has written to all the officials concerned, including Zilla Panchayat CEOs, seeking details of the unaccounted Rs19 crore.
She told The New Indian Express that Rs 19 crore was released as wages for workers in 2017-18 but did not reach beneficiaries in rural areas. “We are not saying there is an issue. But in some cases, if the workers do not have a bank account or Aadhaar number or any such technical issue, that could be a reason. So we have sought details from the officials concerned. I have directed them to clear it within the next 15 days by verifying it,” she said.
Official RDPR sources said that in 2017-18, as many as 596 cases were registered against officials and contractors for violating MGNREGA guidelines.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg, there are so many irregularities in the funds which come from the state and the Union governments. It needs a detailed probe by an external agency,’’ the official said.