Harsh demands appointment of ombudsmen, seeks probe into plunder of MG-NREGA funds

JAMMU, JUN 4: Alleging large scale irregularities and bunglings in the implementation of MG-NREGA scheme in the state, JKNPP Chairman and Former Minister Harsh Dev Singh today petitioned the Union Rural Development Minister seeking a high level probe into all spendings under the scheme by the J&K RDD during the last two years. He regretted that in the absence of ombudsman or any other monitoring authority, the huge funding under MG-NREGA scheme has been looted and plundered with none to take cognizance of the frauds in RDD making headlines in the media every other day. He reminisced that the Central government had issued categoric instructions to all state Govts in 2009 for immediate creation of the institution of ombudsmen at District level in their respective states so as to check pilferage of rural development and employment guarantee funds provided to the states under the scheme. He regretted that while the state of J&K has availed thousands of crores under the said national flagship programme, it has failed to initiate any action whatsoever with regard to appointment of ombudsmen in the state.
Harsh Dev Singh said that in the absence of ombudsmen in various Districts, the funds under the MG-NREGA scheme were being siphoned off by unscrupulous officials in connivance with certain vested interests.
Singh regretted that even the complaints filed by him with helmsmen regarding the blatant violations and other irregularities in MG-NREGA in District Udhampur particularly Ramnagar constituency on the basis of feedback received from the ground, had failed to elicit any response from concerned quarters. He said that in view of well knit mafias in the Rural Development Deptt, the funds meant for the poor, needy and rural unemployed were being swindled thereby defeating the very purpose of the scheme. He regretted that the state govt too could not be absolved of its criminal vicarious liability as the in-explicable delay had allowed the corrupt and unscrupulous elements to siphon the funds envisaged for empowerment of rural poor.
Seeking immediate action for appointment of ombudsmen, Singh cautioned that any further delay would invite strong public reaction with Panthers Party holding protests outside offices of various RDD officers including the Ministers concerned. He said that the appointment of ombudsmen, having powers to take disciplinary as well as punitive action against the offenders under the MG-NREGA Act, would further serve as a deterrent upon the corrupt and dishonest functionaries of the Rural Development Deptt. He appealed the Chief Minister and Union RD Minister to take due cognizance of the MG-NREGA frauds and further ensure the early constitution of the much delayed monitoring and Evaluation Authority on the lines of Lok Pal as envisaged under the Act.