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CBI probe sought in Rs 5900 crore NREGA scam in Bihar

By M I Khan
December 14, 2012 11:37 IST
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The Delhi-based Centre for Environment and Food Security has filed an application in the Supreme Court seeking a thorough probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act scam in Bihar.

Opposition parties had earlier demanded a CBI probe into allegations that nearly 73 per cent of the funds allotted for the implementation of the MNERGA in 38 districts of Bihar, between 2006 and 2012, have been embezzled by authorities.

The hearing in the MNREGA case is scheduled on January 21, 2013.

"We have filed an application in the court for a CBI probe into MNREGA scam in Bihar," CEFS director Parshuram Rai said on Friday.

A performance audit of the MNREGA conducted by CEFS has revealed massive corruption and serious irregularities in the implementation of the rural job scheme in Bihar.

According to the audit, the Bihar government has spent a total amount of Rs 8,189 crore during six years on NREGA, of which Rs 5,977 crore has been misappropriated by implementing authorities.

"Under these circumstances, and the facts that have come to light, especially considering the fact that Bihar has the second highest number of people below poverty line in the country who have been deprived of its benefits and also considering that the total expenditure on MNREGA in Bihar is more than Rs 9000 crore, a thorough independent investigation into the implementation of MNREGA in the state is required," stated the CEFS plea.

Rai said the performance audit was conducted through a sample survey in 100 impoverished Dalit villages spread over ten districts in Bihar.

The field survey for this audit was carried out during January 2012 and a total of 2,500 households were interviewed for this purpose.

Over 90 per cent of the sample households covered under this survey belong to Dalit and Mahadalit communities.

"Almost all the sample households covered under this survey are the living definition of extreme deprivation. They are landless and casual wage employment is their sole means of survival. In the majority of these villages, NREGA is as good as non-existent for those who need it the most, but it has brought windfall gains for the implementing authorities," Parsuram said.

The CEFS performance audit suggests that nearly 73 per cent of the wage component of NREGA funds has been misappropriated by concerned authorities, primarily through fake job entries in official records. Only 27 per cent of the total wages has reached its intended beneficiaries.

"We have reasons to believe that all this is done in complicity with block-level authorities and in most cases, the district authorities are also direct or indirect party to this loot. Without the complicity of block and district authorities, open loot of this magnitude is impossible," Parsuram said.

Six years after the implementation of the NREGA, the ruling United Progressive Alliance's flagship scheme, the Grievance Redressal Mechanism in Bihar is confined to official papers and circulars.

According to the CEFS report, the rural job scheme in Bihar has been virtually hijacked by implementing authorities.

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