Minister warns of strict action against panchayat members swindling MGNREGS funds

The Minister of Self-Government MB Rajesh has ordered statewide inspections and warned of action without any political bias if elected representatives embezzle funds. Photo: Manorama Online

Thiruvananthapuram: Social audits had recently exposed rampant fraud by local self-government (LSG) body members in swindling money paid for labour under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS). Now, the Minister of Self-Government M B Rajesh has ordered state-wide inspections and warned of action without any political bias if elected representatives embezzle funds.

As reported earlier, panchayat members at several places forged documents to show that they had participated in the MGNREGA works in order to claim wages.

MGNREGS Mission Director had written to the Government recommending action against the elected representatives at Poovachal Panchayath in Thiruvananthapuram district.

An audit report revealed that nine members of the Poovachal Panchayat had unauthorisedly received Rs 1.68 lakh by using forged documents, without doing the work. The report also states that four members of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), one member of the Communist Party of India, and two members each of the Congress and BJP had together received Rs 1,68,422.

Such fraud has been detected in the wards of Mundukonam, Veeranakavu, Pattakkulam, Poovachal, Kovilvila, Panniyode, Thottambara, Mylottumumoozhi, and Chamavila too.

Mission Director Anu Kumari had issued a circular demanding a meticulous inspection at all places where these representatives had worked as part of the MGNREGA scheme. Extensive social audit and ombudsman’s inspection would be conducted too.

Multi-level interventions followed an investigative series reported by Manorama News.

The Vigilance is empowered to register a case since this is an instance of financial fraud. Since the offenders are people’s representatives, there is also a provision in the law to disqualify them. However, a move is on to bring about a compromise.

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