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CAG unearths rural job scam

Imphal, Aug. 3: Manipur rural development and panchayati raj department has committed unauthorised expenditure by spending funds for implementation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) in civil works, a report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India (CAG) said.

“Instead of utilising funds for administrative purposes for implementation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, Rs 1.54 crore was utilised for civil works resulting in unauthorised expenditure,” the report for the year ended March 31, 2013, said.

It said expenditure of funds meant for administrative purposes of the rural job scheme was not permissible under the guidelines of the rural development ministry.

According to the MGNREGS Act, a certain percentage of the total cost of the scheme, which is to be determined by the Centre, is admissible as administrative expenses.

These include salaries and allowances of programme officers and their supporting staff and worksite facilities such as safe drinking water, shades for children, first-aid box with adequate material for emergency treatment for minor injuries and other health hazards in connection with the works, the report said.

“However, according to the ministry of rural development, a government of India’s circular dated March 30, 2007, civil works are not permissible,” the report said.

It said a check of records of the district rural development agency, Imphal West, revealed that the executive director of the agency drew an amount of Rs 1.45 crore from the funds provided for administrative expenses of the rural job scheme during 2009-11 and utilised the same amount for construction and land development of deputy commissioner’s office complexes at Babupara and Lamphelpat, both in Imphal city.

According to the report, a sum of Rs 56.80 lakh was used for construction of a meeting-cum-conference hall at the deputy commissioner’s office complex at Lamphelpat, a sum of Rs 7.77 lakh for construction of car garages at northern and southern side of the deputy commissioner’s office at Babupara, Rs 12.62 lakh for land development at the Lamphelpat complex and Rs 68.40 lakh for construction of another conference-cum-meeting hall at Lamphelpat complex.

The report said the department stated that the expenditure was made as the deputy commissioner’s complexes did not have a proper meeting hall and a garage and that such practice would not be repeated in the future.

“The reply is not acceptable as the scheme fund cannot be spent for civil works as per the ministries circular,” the report said.

The report also said payment of 100 per cent advance by Manipur Electronics Development Corporation to a firm for supply of materials without any safeguards, led to non-supply of materials worth Rs 39.71 lakh for more than six years.