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State report ‘seal’ on job scam

Patna, Dec. 4: The alleged scam in the implementation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in various Bihar villages has hardly surprised the NDA and the opposition, RJD and Congress.

As the Opposition today put pressure on the Nitish Kumar government in the House demanding a CBI probe into the “misappropriation” of around Rs 6,000 crore as suggested by New Delhi-based non-government organisation (NGO) Centre for Environment and Food Security, panchayati raj minister Bhim Singh tabled an audit report on the functioning of panchayati raj institutions.

The audit report, prepared by the local accounts department under the supervision of the principal accountant-general (audit), Bihar, confirmed what the NGO suggested. But the report has not made any estimate of the Rs 6,000 crore of the Rs 9,000 crore pumped into Bihar under the scheme between 2006-07 and 2011-12.

The audit report detected several “irregularities” between 2009 and 2010, “unfruitful expenditure” of over Rs 3 crore in six panchayati samitis, “doubtful expenditure” in the Bhojpur zilla parishad and the panchayat samiti of Punpun in Patna and “excess payment” of over Rs 21.86 lakh for various projects in nine panchayat bodies. It also detected fraudulent withdrawals as part of the scheme by some panchayat bodies and expressed “serious doubts” about muster rolls — the basic record for implementation of work and engagement of labourers.

Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh and the chief minister are reported to have discussed how funds under the scheme meant for the poor were allegedly siphoned off to purchase sports utility vehicles for mukhiyas (village heads). Ramesh, while addressing a public meeting here in May, had said he had a discussion with Nitish regarding the alleged anomaly.

The RJD continued to obstruct proceedings today by raising slogans such as “MGNREGA chor gaddi chhor” (MGNREGA funds thieves quit from power). RJD leader and Leader of the Opposition Abdul Bari Siddiqui threatened to move a breach of privilege motion against rural development minister Nitish Mishra for allegedly speaking derogatorily about his son. “Mishra yesterday told me outside the House that he would make public what my son, Anis, does in the Philippines. This amounts to breach of privilege,” Siddiqui said.