Budgam: The villagers of Rathsun block in central Kashmir’s Beerwah pocket of Budgam have alleged that large scale misappropriation has taken place in the execution of works under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA).
The job card holders of the block allege that funds have been swindled in a planned manner by some officials in connivance with some influential people.
Sources said hundreds of job card holders have been duped by the successive Block Development Officers, Village Level Workers, sarpanches, panches and contractors on one or the other pretext.
Although the job card holders have never enrolled themselves for work under MNREGA, the wages are being transferred to their bank accounts every year. It has surfaced that without the knowledge of the account holders, the transferred money has been withdrawn.
Citing an example, sources said one job card holder Ghulam Nabi Dar, with job card number JK04-003-034-00122701/170 has once enrolled himself for work but he is getting money in his account frequently.
“I didn’t even know whether I had enrolled for work or not but money is being transferred to my account and later reimbursed after getting hefty commission from contractors,” he said.
Similarly another job card holder Riyaz Ahmad Mir with job card number JK04-003-034-00122701/218 has also been duped several times by the officials.
“It is a big tragedy as the NREGA ends up as another money minting machine for officials of the rural development department in our block,” he said.
Ghulam Nabi Dar, a poor shawl weaver of this village in Budgam district, was actually given few days of employment and paid Rs 1815 as wages during 2012. Dar worked on construction of lane from main road to a house executed under MGNREGA an anti-poverty programme.
Dar’s job card posted online on NREGS website has a different version of work and payment details. As per those entries, he was given 197 days of wage employment and paid Rs 28189 as wages. So, out of Rs 28189, only Rs 1815 actually came in Dar’s hands.
The remaining Rs 26374 which is more than 94 percent of the total wage payment has been siphoned off and misappropriated by the government officials.
Similarly, Riyaz Ahmad Mir, of this village has not received any employment under rural job scheme. But, in his job card on NREGA, there is fake job entry of 236 days and Rs.21309 as wages have been falsely shown in his name. In this case, 100 per cent of the wages have been gobbled up by the government officials.
The stories of Dar and Mir are not isolated cases of financial bungling and misappropriation of NREGS funds in Rathsun rural development block. Hundreds of poor people are facing the same torment. A random survey in these villages of Budgam has revealed that all these claims are bogus and manufactured only in official records in order to siphon off NREGA funds. The brief survey conducted reveals that funds have been siphoned off and misappropriated by the government officials.
“Though the primary purpose of this scheme is to enhance the livelihood security of poor people by guaranteeing 100 days of wages employment in a financial year to a house hold and grow their economy,” reveals office website.
However, the villagers said that the scheme has totally failed in the village owing to corrupt practices of the officials.
Ghulam Rosool Dar, Nambardar of the village said that the cam must be thoroughly investigated to
Block Development Officer (BDO) Majid Manzoor said the discrepancy in payments was due to technical snag. “I will rectify it,” he said.
Rural Development Minister Abdul Haq Khan did not respond to repeated calls and text messages.