Loot in Employment Guarantee Scheme Exposed
A social audit organised in Chitrakoot district of Uttar Pradesh has exposed large scale loot in rural employment guarantee scheme. This social audit and public hearing were organised by a women's organisation 'Chingari' and 'Akhil Bhartiya Samaj Sewa Sansthan'. Documents related to this scheme in Itwan-Dudaila panchayat of Manikpur block were checked and verfied with real experiences of the villagers and labourers in this social audit. Large scale corruption came to the fore in this.
Extending full support in the beginning, the District Development OffIcer (DDO), ordered the BDO, gram pradhan and secretary to make all the records available. But if important records like muster rolls do not exist, how can they be made available. When strict orders of DDO were issued several times, the gram panchayat secretaries concerned accepted in recorded statements that neither they have muster rolls ready, nor records have been prepared. At last when some records were made available somehow, and the villagers were talked to in the wake of the facts mentioned in them, instances of corruption started coming out.
A total of 185 job cards were seen in Itwan gram panchayat. Out of these work was mentioned in the cards of 74 labourers. Out of these fraudulent work was mentioned in the name of 44 labourers. A villager Kalia said my wife and I never went on work, but my job card has 40 days' fake work mentioned. A payment of Rs 2320 is also mentioned in the muster roll, whereas I have not received even a single rupee. Deshraj said I have worked for seven days, but my job card carries entry of 84 days.
Twenty-one such labourers were found, who can sigh, but with their thumb impressions, a fake payment of Rs 45,182 has been withdrawn for 771 days' work. Rs 51,400 were illegally realised from the villagers for photography. Job cards should have been issued 15 days after the registration, but in reality the villager got them in a period ranging from two to 11 months. In the beginning when 69 labourers gave a written application to the gram pradhan seeking work under the scheme, he tore away their application. When these labourers sent the application by registered post, even then no action was taken. Afterwards when some work started following high level inquiry, but these 69 labourers were not given any work because of a feeling of revenge. Out of these 12 had to beg and 35 had to migrate to survive.
So much so that injustice was meted out to the disabled. A disabled Bhadde and his wife were not given any work, but Rs 2,320 were siphoned out by entering 40 days' work in their job card. Similarly, fictious payments of Rs 2,320 and 1,624 were made in the names of the disabled Maika and Sampatia, respectively. Ward member Jamuna said that no work of the panchayat was being done as per rules. Several works are executed without open meeting and resolution. Even ward members are not given any information. Panchayat member Kahlal said that pradhan and secretary did not hold any meeting with the ward members till date.
It may be mentioned that a woman by the name Rajlali Pandey has been elected pradhan here, but tasks of pradhan are executed by her husband Gaya Prasad Pandey, a railway employee. Manto, a member of the vigilance committee said before this he had no information that he was a member of the vigilance committee. It became clear in the public hearing that four works were initiated in the panchayat under the scheme, but only one was shown completed. But in reality even this is incomplete. Out of Rs 15,000 shown to be spent in plantation, only Rs 9,500 have been spent. On the Machhriha pond Rs 1,78,803 have been shown as spent, while according to the verification team an estimated Rs 99,110 should have been spent.
The labourer Vishwakarma said when he brought bungling being committed by the pradhan and secretary into the notive of the verification team, he was beaten by the pradhan's henchmen and then he was lodged in Markundi police station. With the efforts of the Sansthan's workers, he could somehow be released from there.
Bharat Dogra, Navbharat Times, Online Edition, July 10, 2007