Funds for employment guarantee programme siphoned off by producing fabricated documents

This was revealed during a social audit of the employment guarantee programme carried out at Poovachal panchayat in Thiruvananthapuram. Photo: Manorama

Thiruvananthapuram: Even as the state government has planned more projects under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee (MGNREGA) scheme, the funds being allotted towards the programme implementation are found going down the drain at the grass-root level.

This was revealed during a social audit of the employment guarantee programme carried out at Poovachal panchayat in Thiruvananthapuram, a local body currently governed by the Left Democratic Front. As per this, nine panchayat members across the three major political coalitions drew off about Rs 1.75 lakh in the guise of implementing various works. Documents were fabricated to prove their participation in these projects even on the days when they attended meetings of the Panchayat council.

After a probe by the ombudsman confirmed the scam, attempts are now being made by the accused to disengage themselves from the case by repaying the defrauded sum.

Interestingly, the differences in political ideology did not stand in the way of these local politicians in committing the fraud. Of the nine persons accused of defrauding, four belong to the CPM, one from CPI while the Congress and the BJP have two members each.

The social auditing has found that these nine persons have together drained public money worth Rs 1,68, 422 through the fabrication of documents. Though the Ombudsman issued a direction to pay back this amount, only Rs 8,000 has been refunded so far. On the other hand, they are also attempting to justify their wrongdoing by attributing it to a slip-up.

As the offense here pertained to financial fraud, the Vigilance is empowered to register a case and conduct further investigations. Since the accused are elected representatives, there are also provisions to disqualify them. But given that all three parties have an equal role in the scam, the bureaucracy and political class are striving hard to hush up and settle the case.

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