Guwahati, Sept. 13: The BJP-led Assam government will soon order an investigation into a suspected scam involving over 12.5 lakh "fake job cards" under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS). The cards were allegedly issued during the Congress regime.
Sources in Dispur today said the "anomalies" came to light during the switchover to direct benefit transfer of wage payment introduced under the Centre's Digital India drive.
A below poverty line (BPL) person in rural areas is offered a job card under the Centre's MGNREGS.
An assessment of the beneficiaries conducted by the state panchayat and rural development department recently revealed that many in the state were granted the job cards in violation of the criteria. Many beneficiaries were found having more than one card under fictitious names.
Data tabled in the Assembly yesterday said of the total 41,45,120 job cards issued in the state under the scheme, 4,83,264 cards were cancelled after they were found violating the criteria. "Even some teachers working in government schools or those from rich families were provided the job card," a source said. A total of 1,50,672 cards issued in the past 15 years are under scrutiny of the department.
Sources said the department suspects that crores of rupees were swindled by officials and politicians by issuing fake cards. "The matter has been brought to the notice of chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal for a detailed investigation. The matter is likely to be referred to the vigilance and anti-corruption branch of the police soon," said the source. "We are sure that there is a big scam. A proper inquiry will put many officials and politicians behind bars," a source said.
The BJP government has so far ordered inquiries into corruption in the social welfare department, excise and agriculture since it came to power in May last year. Former ministers Akon Bora, Ajanta Neog and Gautam Roy have been questioned in connection with a suspected Rs 2,100 crore scam in the social welfare department. A case has also been registered against former chief minister Tarun Gogoi for allegedly releasing money under an employment generation mission in violation of the norms.
The BJP said it was part of its action plan to make Assam a corruption-free state. The Congress termed it a vindictive move. Data tabled in the Assembly said according to gaon panchayat development programme, the government has approved 59,781 schemes under MGNREGA this fiscal.