MNREGA 'scam' catches government on the wrong foot

Patna,(BiharTimes): Even as the opposition parties in the Bihar Assembly on Friday sought a CBI probe into what is alleged the Rs 6,000 crore MNREGA scam the Nitish government appeared to be caught in a cleft stick.

Though the chief minister Nitish Kumar said on Thursday that no scam has taken place in MNREGA yet five days after a small section of media highlighted the news it sacked 110 employees involved in MNREGA scheme. Not only that the state government has lodged FIRs against 120 panchayat rozgar sevaks and 130 officials and employees for gross irregularities in the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.

However, sources within the rural development department while talking to BiharTimes said that no action has yet been taken against any block development officer, SDO, DDC, DM etc.

But the big question is if it is not a scam than why is it that the state government ordered probe within a couple of days after the performance audit of a Delhi-based NGO, the Centre for Environment and Food Security (CEFS), found that 73 per cent of the Rs 8,189 crore scheme fund spent in the state’s 38 districts in six years (2006-12) were embezzled by the implementing authorities.

Another question is: If a survey done by an NGO––and that too a Delhi-based––can come out with such a gross embezzlement of fund in last six years what were the official machinery, social activists and media doing in Bihar all these years.

The hasty manner in which the government has ordered probe and sacked some junior employees––though the big fish are very much at large––shows that something somewhere is seriously wrong.

What is strange is that the government, notwithstanding denying that any scam has taken place, took action against the employees even when there was no pressure from the media.

The NGO’s report, which was released on Nov 24, on the occasion of the seventh anniversary of the Nitish government, was initially blacked out by most prominent newspapers.
If the scam is really of Rs 6,000 crore it would be six times bigger than the infamous fodder scam of Rs 950 crore, which shook the very foundation of the then Lalu-Rabri regime.


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