MNREGS graft: Kerala government asks CPM leader, panchayat secretary to repay Rs 5.63 lakh

Without bids or technical sanctions, panchayat president releases Rs 10.24 lakh to buy metal to build seven roads in 2010. way above the 40% cap set by MNREGS guidelines for material costs.

Published: 11th June 2022 10:30 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th June 2022 10:30 AM   |  A+A-

CPM, CPM flags, CPI(M)

Image used for representational purpose only. (File photo| EPS)

By Express News Service

KASARGOD:  In a major embarrassment to the CPM, the state government has asked the party's district committee member MV Krishnan and two others to pay back Rs 5.63 lakh in a 12-year-old case of financial irregularities when he was the president of Panathady grama panchayat.

The Department of Local Self-Government asked the director of the panchayats department to recover the money from Krishnan, then panchayat secretary Unnikrishnan of Nadathara in Thrissur, and contractor K Aravindakshan.

Panathady panchayat secretary M Sureshkumar said he has served notices to the three persons to pay Rs 1,87,588 each within 30 days. The secretary said Krishnan and Unnikrishnan flouted tender procedures and bought metal from quarry owner Aravindakshan to build seven roads in the panchayat. As panchayat president, Krishnan sanctioned Rs 10.24 lakh for the purchase.

The roads were supposed to be built under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) and according to the guidelines, only 40% of the total project cost could be used to buy materials. "But Krishnan and the then secretary Unnikrishnan sanctioned 70% of the total project cost to buy material," he said.

A resident of the panchayat filed a complaint with the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) alleging that Rs 10.24 lakh was released without the contractor even delivering the metal. The VACB report said the road works did not have the technical sanction and the approval of the panchayat board.

The Local Fund Audit of 2009-2010 said there was no record of the panchayat secretary accepting any bids for the tender ad placed in Deshabhimani daily on February 17, 2010.

The metal, if delivered, was not entered in the records (M Book). The complainant said the quarry owner unloaded waste metal on the roadside after the corruption came to light. "The piles of metal can still be seen on the roadsides. And no road was built under the scheme. The entire money was wasted," he said.
The VACB report should have been submitted to the court and the culprits should have been prosecuted, he said.

But the present panchayat secretary Sureshkumar said the government decided to recover the money because the case was old and the VACB got the legal opinion that there was not enough evidence in the case to procure conviction from the court.

The VACB calculated and found that though Rs 10.24 lakh was sanctioned, the government incurred a loss of only Rs 5.63 lakh, he said.



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