Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Tribals seek CBI probe into MGNREGS fund scam-Deccan Herald

Tribals seek CBI probe into MGNREGS fund scam-Deccan Herald

Mumbai, May 1, 2012, DHNS
Protests against non-payment of wages on Tuesday

Thousands of tribals in the Yavatmal region bordering Andhra Pradesh will take to the streets in Pandharkawda Addi.Collectorate on Friday to press for a CBI probe into the alleged siphoning off over Rs 25 crores from schemes sponsored by the state and Central governments.
The tribals, working under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), have not been paid since January 2012. The same goes for tendu leaf pluckers working deep in forest interiors; the local administration for some reason have been eschewing the disbursement of bonus despite receiving the money from the State for the purpose.

Talking over phone from Nagpur, activist Kishore Tiwari of Tendu Pata Mazdoor Sangh said that while the quantum of money that “is being siphoned off may easily cross over Rs 200 crores (since 2007),” at present it has come to our notice and to the notice of the Yavatmal Collector that through forged documents money meant for tribals was siphoned off by forest officials, contractors and politicians.”

Giving details of the alleged scam, Tiwari said that several officials in collusion with contractors have been collecting money under the names of people who “are long dead.” “It is a classic case of dead souls being used for raking in money.”

Explaining the modus operandi, Tiwari said: “The agents of contractors forged jobcards of the tendu leaf workers who live in remote forests. The cheques made against the wages are credited into these accounts and then withdrawn to show that money has been paid for labour. In fact, in many cases we have found that the contractors silently use automated machines and then show that the work was done by workers.” Yavatmal  Collector Shrawan Hardikar has already instituted a social audit into the scam after he realised that money was not being disbursed to workers.
However, both tendu leaf workers and MGNREGA labourers have expressed dissatisfaction with a “mere social audit,” and want a probe into the scam to be carried out by an independent agency like the  CBI.

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