Orissa Minister admits irregularities in NREGS

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Bhubaneswar, Feb 2 (UNI) Orissa Panchayat Raj Minister Raghunath Mohanty today admitted irregularities in the implementation of the Union Government-funded National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in Orissa and warned of stern action against the erring officials.

The Minister said irregularities were found as people in charge of the implementation of scheme right from the Sarpanch to the Block Development Officer had failed to discharge their duties properly.

The Minister said the government had received more than 400 complaints from various districts, including Ganjam, Mayurbhanja, Phulbani and Kalhanadi.

The respective Ccollectors were asked to inquire into the matter.

He said according to the preliminary investigation, around 20 officials were found to be lacking in their duties in the implementation of the scheme.

Mr Mohanty said the money would be recovered from the officials found guilty and paid to the affected people.

Addressing a press conference on the successful completion of two years of the scheme in Orissa, Mr Mohanty said Orissa was the first state in the country to pay unemployment allowances.

He said unemployment allowance amounting to around Rs 62,000 was distributed in two blocks of Kalahandi and one block each in Bolangir and Nawarangpur as the authorities had failed to provide job.

The NREG scheme was first launched in Orissa two years ago with an objective to provide at least 100 days employment to every family in rural areas and to check migration of labourers.

Five districts were added to the list last year and the scheme would cover Cuttack, Puri, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Nayagarha and Khurda from April next.

The Minister said the government had planned massive afforestation and would dig 1.60 lakh farm ponds.

He said efforts were being made to pay wages through Bank and post offices.

Mr Mohanty said till today around 61 lakh families were covered.

He said while 25.93 lakh job cards were issued in 2006-07, as many as 38.59 lakh were issued last year.

He said 19.46 lakh people had applied for job in 2006-07 and 11.84 lakh last year. As many as 18.48 lakh jobs were provided in 2006-7 and 11.68 lakh last year.

Under the scheme, while 7.99 lakh mandays were created in 2006-07, only 2.19 lakh mandays were created in the subsequent year.

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