Bihar orders probe into rural job guarantee scheme

Last Updated: Mon, Nov 26, 2012 07:00 hrs

Patna, Nov 26 (IANS) The Bihar government Monday ordered a probe into allegations of corruption in the state's rural jobs scheme in the wake of a performance audit report by a Delhi−based NGO revealing "an open loot of taxpayers' money".

State Rural Development Minister Nitish Mishra Monday said the government would conduct the physical verification of beneficiaries and areas covered under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).

"We have ordered a physical verification of all the facts related to the scheme," Mishra said here.

Two days ago, Delhi−based Centre for Environment and Food Security (CEFS) said the performance audit of MGNREGS in Bihar found that 73 percent 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.

"There is an open loot of taxpayers' money. There is plunder of rural poor's right to guaranteed wage employment for 100 days and there is pillage of every single norm of democratic governance and public accountability," the CEFS report said.

It added: "The scale and dimensions of MNREGS corruption in Bihar suggest that this kind of open loot is impossible without active connivance of the block and district authorities."

Parshuram Rai, founder director of CEFS, said the audit was done over nine to 10 months, covering 2,500 households in the state. The amount siphoned off, CEFS said, is nearly Rs.6,000 crore.

Mishra assured that strict action would be taken against officials found involved in irregularities in the implementation of the scheme.

MNREGS aims at enhancing the livelihood security of people in rural areas by guaranteeing 100 days of wage−employment in a financial year to a rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.

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